Fleet Operations calls for a sharper focus on driver eyesight

Fleet management specialist Fleet Operations is urging fleet operators to ensure their drivers have regular eyesight tests following new research which shows that thousands of drivers lose their licence each year in the UK due to poor eyesight.

The latest government figures reveal that 19,644 drivers had their licences revoked between January 2017 and September 2019 because their eyesight did not meet the required standard, the equivalent of 134 drivers per week, or more than 7,100 a year1.

“All employers have a duty of care to confirm that any employees who drive either a company car or their own vehicle for any work-related purpose are fit to drive, including passing the eyesight requirements,” said Richard Hipkiss, Managing Director of Fleet Operations.

“These statistics bring this health and safety obligation into sharp focus.  Employers should be reminding their employees regularly of the DVLA recommendation that eyesight tests should be taken every two years as a minimum to mitigate risk for both employees and other road users.

The current law stipulates that all drivers must be able to read a number plate in daylight from a distance of 20 metres, but this could be improved on according to Richard. 

“As with most medical conditions, the onus legally is on the driver to inform the DVLA should their eyesight drop below the required levels.  But apart from this rudimentary eyesight check during their driving test, the test is not required at any other time, nor can this be fully relied on as it only checks a driver’s ability to read over distance. The only way to properly check a driver’s eyesight is through an eyesight test with an optician.

“We’d like to see a mandatory eyesight test as part of the photocard licence renewal process every 10 years. It’s simply too important to leave for people to effectively ‘self-certify’ as the years go by.

“It’s particularly pertinent at this time of year when darker days, glare from the setting winter sun, reduced visibility from fog and rain and increased brake times from icy weather could all exacerbate potential problems for drivers who have issues with their eyesight.”

The DVLA figures were uncovered by insurance company Direct Line through a Freedom of Information request.

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