Fleet News

Risk management: Why fleets must keep safety in their sights

IF fleet managers were asked how many of their drivers had been for an eye test in the past two years, many would be unable to answer.

But latest findings have shown that one in three drivers in the UK – around 13 million people – could be breaking the law and putting themselves and others in danger because they are driving with poor eyesight.

It all boils down to having a comprehensive risk management policy in place and it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure drivers have adequate vision.

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having an eye test – from 17 to 70 – but many police officers believe the current standard, introduced in 1935, is out of date.

The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) is calling on the Government to promote the importance of regular eye tests as part of a major eye health awareness campaign.

The institute has teamed up with RAC Auto Windscreens and Dollond & Aitchison to promote the issue and has spent more than a week targeting drivers at UK motorway service stations.

Drivers were offered a free on-the-spot eye test to check if their vision was up to scratch although RAC Auto Windscreens was keen to point out that they only tested passengers who held driving licences, in case someone was found to be unfit to drive.

Jason Jones, brand and marketing manager at RAC Auto Windscreens, was on hand at the road shows.

He said: ‘One 83-year-old man could hardly see the car, never mind the registration plate. Luckily, he wasn’t driving but his wife said he only drove now and again anyway!’

At the other end of the scale, one fleet driver tested said his company made him have an eye test every six months as he was a frequent driver.

A study compiled by the RNIB, called ‘The Road Ahead’, has shown that one- third of all drivers have not had their eyes tested in the past two years. The worst offenders are those in the 25-44 age bracket, with 43% of this age group admitting to not having had a test.

Almost 1,000 drivers were polled in the study, which also showed that 46% of 25 to 34-year-olds have not been tested in two years alongside 40% of 35 to 44-year-olds. Anita Lightstone, head of eye health at the RNIB, said: ‘Our report shows a worrying complacency about eye health among drivers.

‘The Road Ahead reveals that people are not having regular eye tests and their sight is going unchecked and uncorrected. They may be driving while not able to see road signs clearly any more or may be wearing glasses for driving which are no longer suitable. The report also suggests drivers may not realise they could be breaking the law if they cannot pass a sight test – even when wearing glasses.

Lightstone added: ‘We are alarmed that one in three drivers are not getting their eyes tested regularly and that many people are not surprised to fail an eye test because they realise their sight is not perfect.’

Additional research from Warwick University has shown that 65% of people who do not wear glasses and failed a basic eye chart test were drivers.

Of those polled, 33% said they were not surprised and had suspicions their sight was not perfect. Again, almost 1,000 people with uncorrected eyesight were tested using a standard eyesight test used by opticians.

Lightstone added: ‘Our message is clear – people need to think of an eye test as an MoT for their eyes and book one today.

‘An eye test isn’t just about whether you need glasses, but also about preventing your sight from getting any worse or detecting potentially blinding conditions that may need immediate treatment.

‘The Road Ahead report shows that people are not getting the message that an eye test is an eye health check. The Government has to act now to promote eye health and the importance of a regular eye test.’

  • For more information on the Royal National Institute of the Blind study, log on to www.rnib.co.uk

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