Local driver training service introduces eye testing

Having good vision is essential for safe driving on our roads because of the simple fact that the ability to have good vision is a vital part of driver fitness.

With this in mind, a locally owned driver training provider based in Honiara is leading the way in ensuring potential drivers have their eyes tested before getting a driver’s license.

Solomon Islands Professional Driver Training Services (SIPDTS), a member of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), has introduced eye testing for their current cohort of eight (8) students.

And eye testing is now compulsory for those seeking driver training at SIPDTS before students can be recommended for a driver’s license by SIPDTS’ pool of qualified driving instructors.

“We have seen an increase of people enrolling with us wanting to learn how to drive and the majority are women,” Joyce Lelau, who is the Managing Director at SIPDTS, says. 

“And it has come to our attention that having a good eye sight must be a requirement and it is important to do this test. That is why we have decided to engage one of our eye specialists in the country to conduct eye testing for our students,” she added.

Dr Claude Posala, who is the former Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Honiara’s regional eye centre, is happy to be offering his area of expertise for what he sees as a worthwhile initiative.

“One requirement SIPDTS wanted me to assist with is to do eye checks, especially vision.

“Vision for driving is very important as we all know drivers must have a clear sight, because the risks when we do not have a good vision while driving is obvious, we might cause issues on the road, and a worst-case scenario is accidents can happen,” he said.

In overseas countries, there are set standards used and included in their driving examination where a visual test is a requirement.

“In Solomon Islands I’m not aware if we have such standards currently in place.

“But it is good to see this driving school taking the initiative, and from what I’m seeing they are very keen in making it part of their requirement to screen students before they go on to do their driving test. It’s a good thing and they are assisting our traffic authorities in the country,” Dr Posala said.

Local driver training service introduces eye testing
SIPDTS Managing Director, Joyce Lelau and Dr Claude Posala.

In Solomon Islands it is understood that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MID) through its relevant department is responsible for conducting driving tests before a person gets his or her driver’s license.

“To my understanding, they have not incorporated other issues like what level of vision a person have before they can drive,” Dr Posala said.

This is actually what SIPDTS is trying to bring up to recognition as part of the standard screening of candidates that come through their school who want to get a driver’s license.

Apart from safety on the roads, why do we need standards in place? Take for example there is a legal issue surrounding a traffic accident and the driver is accused of having an eyesight problem which is believed to be the cause. Without prior check, we do not have a reference point to double check with for confirmation.

That is why including eyesight checks as part of the driving test is important and what SIPDTS is doing is a positive step forward for this approach.

Ms Lelau, who started this small business one year ago, says SIPDTS currently has certified and professional driving instructors who through their own trainings were required to take eye testing as well.

“We see no reason why we should not also offer this service for ordinary Solomon Islanders who want to learn how to drive.

“Vision is important when you are driving as it means you will be able to judge all the potential hazards and ensure you keep yourself, as well as other road users, safe,” Ms Lelau said.

Ms Lelau said interestingly, Dr Posala has already picked up one student who is short sighted.

“The Doctor corrected the student’s eyesight and now the student is on the road as good as our other students,” she said.

The SIPDTS office is situated at the Canon Desmond Building inside the Saint Barnabas Cathedral compound in Honiara.

The COVID-19 pandemic and slowdown of economic activities is having an impact especially on small businesses in the country and unfortunately, SIPDTS is no exception.

But with things slowly getting back to normalcy in the capital, Ms Lelau is determined to brave the storm and continue providing SIPFTS’ service to Solomon Islanders and in the process, help contribute to safety on our roads.

Local driver training service introduces eye testing
Eye testing is now compulsory for Solomon Islanders who wish to learn how to drive from the qualified driving instructors from SIPDTS.