In its consultation document, the DVLA plans to make the basic number plate test easier. Drivers will soon have to be able to read a number plate at 17.5 metres (as opposed to the current 20 metres) on the day of their test. Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is calling for an obligatory eyetest to be implemented for all who drive in the course of their work and repeated as often as directed by their optometrist.
Without a change to the regulations it is company drivers who are most at risk. RoSPA states that company car drivers are 49% more likely to be involved in an accident than ordinary drivers, even after their higher mileages are taken into account. Specsavers Corporate Eyecare believes that it is essential for safety on our roads that obligatory eyesight tests are implemented at least for company drivers. The current onus of responsibility is on the employer, and with the Corporate Manslaughter Act in place, theoretically this could mean high penalties if employees do not have eyesight fit for driving.
While the DVLA states that: “Many employers have their own procedures in place to ensure medical fitness to drive”, research conducted by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in January of this year reveals that the majority of companies do not offer eyecare to their drivers.
- Over half (53%) of companies do not offer eyecare to those employees who drive in the course of their work
- 14% of companies only offer eyecare to some drivers
- Less than a third (32%) offer eyecare to all company drivers
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: “We welcome the fact that the driving laws that are being reviewed if they are going to improve the safety on our roads, however we would like more emphasis on the ability to actually test eyesight. While we understand that the DVLA does not want to burden drivers with unnecessary hoops to jump through, good eyesight is surely an essential prerequisite for driving. We feel that company drivers are at particular risk and that with eye examinations available for less than £20, it is a cost that is easily justifiable.”