A pensioner has been jailed after knocking down and killing two women while driving with such poor vision he would not have been able to see the steering wheel clearly.
Glyn Jones, 68, was driving an Audi A3 towards Southport town centre when he collided with Marie Cunningham, 79, and 85-year-old Grace Foulds on 30 November 2021. The two women, who were crossing Lulworth Road at the time, were taken to hospital with multiple catastrophic injuries and died that evening.
Jones, of Blackgate Lane, Tarleton, later failed a roadside eye test and it emerged that he had not notified DVLA that he suffered from a medical condition that affected his eyesight and his ability to drive a vehicle safely.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing, and on Friday, he was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for nine years and 10 months.
In a statement issued via police, Ms Cunningham’s family said: “On the 30th November 2021 we lost a woman that cared more about helping her friend across the road than getting herself home, doing what she did best, helping others. Over the last two years, we have lived and breathed the trauma, grief, frustration, anxiety, but most of all, the sadness and loss of our beautiful mum.
“Because of Jones' neglect our lives will be forever changed by that moment in time. Mum’s life was taken away and ours was ripped apart. Nothing can bring mum back, this tragedy was unnecessary and avoidable, through selfishness, recklessness, a clear disregard for the law and the safety of others on the road - we are all here living this trauma today.
Ms Foulds’ daughter added: “It has taken over two years to get the justice that my mother Grace Foulds, and her friend deserve, after a very tragic and unnecessary death. It has been a very difficult time for myself, my husband and our three children and overseas family ….hopefully now we can move on with our lives.”
Detective Sergeant Andy Roper, lead investigating officer, said: “It has been a long and complicated investigation that required detailed analysis of the eyesight records of Mr Jones by an expert optometrist with over 40 years experience in the field. He concluded Mr Jones’ vision was well below the standard required for driving a vehicle and he was informed of this on several occasions by opticians and his GP.
"He chose to ignore this and continued to drive despite the expert optometrist concluding that, ‘his vision without any correction would have been so poor that he would not have managed to see the steering wheel of his vehicle clearly.’ This was an entirely preventable collision where the decisions made by Mr Jones have resulted in devastating consequences, leaving two families grieving and his own life being ruined.
"Glyn Jones continued to drive with a severe eye condition and against expert advice. He failed to notify his insurers or the DVLA of his condition and today he is behind bars where he will spend a considerable amount of time."
Standards of vision for driving
The government advises that you should get your eyes tested at least every two years, in line with advice from optometrists. But it adds that if you recognise your eyesight is deteriorating, you should get them checked out straight away. If your optician or doctor advise you to tell DVLA about your eyesight, you can do it online or by writing a letter.
Drivers should also notify insurers and the DVLA of any notifiable medical conditions or disabilities – over 180 of them can be viewed on the DVLA website. The police have the power to conduct roadside eye tests if they suspect there is a problem with your eyesight. Should you fail this test, the police can revoke your licence and then report the matter to the DVLA for further investigation.
If you are involved in a serious collision, driving with defective eyesight may result in charges relating to dangerous driving, which as we have seen in this case, can result in a custodial sentence.
To be eligible to drive, you must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres. You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye. You must also have an adequate field of vision.