Drivers Eyesight


Do you have a policy of testing the eyesight of your drivers.

At present, rule 92 of the Highway Code makes it clear that a driver must be able to read a number plate, in good daylight from a distance of 20.5 metres. Should a driver need to wear glasses or contact lenses these must be worn whilst driving. The Highway Code does not distinguish between work and private drivers.

The Highway Code does, however, suggest that a driver must ensure their eyesight remains satisfactory. After being asked to read a number plate by the examiner at the required distance, there is no specific requirement for a company car driver or a driver of a light van to have their eyes re-tested after they pass their initial test.

The eyesight part of the driving test re-mains unchanged since being introduced in 1935. Considering the amount of traffic on today's roads, the speed at which we travel and road signs in comparison to the 1930's, the sight test is almost irrelevant.

Of course, we all know that our eyes deteriorate as we get older. For example, a survey by the Royal National Institute for the Blind found that as many as one in three people in the UK would fail a standard eyesight test. When applied to Britain's drivers, this equates to a staggering 13 million people.

Currently there is no specific legal duty on employers to provide eye tests for staff that drive on their behalf. However, health & safety law does apply to work-related driving, and so, by implication employers have a duty of care to ensure that drivers do not put themselves or others at risk.

Best practice advice on work-related safety suggests that employers should be taking steps to ensure drivers' eyesight is satisfactory. The vast majority of employers are putting the onus on the driver to have his or her eyesight checked to ensure they comply with the Highway Code eyesight requirement.

Employers should re-consider their policies when it comes to eye tests. The implications of the corporate manslaughter act could have a profound effect. Courts will be looking at the management systems and practices across an organisation. Juries hearing corporate manslaughter cases will be asked to decide if a death is the result of failed safety systems in an organisation.

Should a fatality involve a company car driver issues such as how the employer ensured the employees fitness to drive - this could come under scrutiny as part of a corporate manslaughter investigation.

Those who fail tests will be warned if they get behind the wheel, they risk a fine, disqualification and invalidating their motor insurance.