From the archive: are you fit to drive? October 1973


Chris Hall

How’s your eyesight, where do you stand on seatbelts, should you seek psychiatric help?

The man on the cover of the Observer Magazine of 14 October 1973 looks a little like racing driver James Hunt in an incongruous tweed jacket but with a helmet of hair rather than… a helmet. ‘Are you fit to drive?’ it asked, referring to driving rather than dress sense.

‘All the indications are,’ wrote Paulette Pratt, ‘that many drivers have serious defective eyesight. Nearly a third of a million motorists are driving with vision below even the primitive standard required by law; a further 900,000 can only reach this standard with one eye.’ Being pulled over and asked why you are driving with one eye closed and giving the excuse ‘because that’s the one that passes the primitive standard required by law’ probably wouldn’t have cut it as an excuse, even in the early 70s.

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