Fleet News

Police chief calls for compulsory eye tests for company car drivers

THE Association of Chief Police Officers has called on the Government to introduce regular and compulsory eye tests for drivers following further evidence that poor sight is a widespread problem among drivers.

Random roadside tests carried out for National Eye Week (September 23-29) have revealed that 10% of Britain's drivers struggle to read a number plate from the required legal distance.

The checks were undertaken by The Eyecare Trust charity and Specsavers opticians, together with police forces across Britain. Just under 5% of drivers tested could not read the plate from the required distance of 20.5 metres, while one in nine admitted never having had an eye test.

David Kenworthy, chief constable for North Yorkshire Police and business head of ACPO's road policing said: 'The research has produced some alarming results and suggests that sub-standard eyesight is likely to be a significant factor in causing road accidents and even fatalities. ACPO believes there is a strong case for making the vision standards required more stringent, as well as introducing regular, compulsory sight checks for all drivers.'

Such a move would remove the administrative burden from employers, who have been coming under increasing pressure to test all employees who drive for work.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists claimed recently that employers should take responsibility for ensuring all their drivers have strong enough eyesight to drive after the British Journal of Medicine published a report claiming a third of drivers would fail the basic test.

Iain Anderson, a trustee of the Eyecare Trust, added: 'The data gathered from these tests will now be presented to David Heath MP, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Group for Eye Health, to make the case to Government for introducing compulsory regular eye tests.'

As the law stands, a driver may go 53 years without having an eye test – from 17 to 70 – and many police officers believe the current standard, introduced in 1935, is out of date.

Motorists are in agreement with the police. Of those surveyed, 98% agreed there should be compulsory testing.

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