Are employers responsible for driver eyesight?

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:25th March 2022

Are employers responsible for driver eyesight?

According to research carried out for National Eye Health Week, there are 9 million drivers on UK roads whose quality of vision is below the legal requirement. Poor eyesight can be a huge risk to not only your drivers, but the road users around them.

In fact, incidents on the road that can be attributed to poor eyesight result in an estimated 2,900 casualties per year.

What is your duty of care as an employer?

The law states that employers must ensure that any employee who drives for work is fit to do so. This could cover a number of things, but ensuring your drivers’ eyesight is in good condition falls under these rules.

The standard check is to see whether drivers can read a number plate from 20 metres away. It is recommended that you do this when they are first employed, and every 6 months following.

Should they fail this test, it is vital that they get their eyes tested properly. This can be arranged by the employer or the employee, depending on your policy. However, should the employee fail to have their eyes tested and continue to drive with less than adequate vision, this could be a breach of the law.

If the results of your drivers’ eye tests aren’t satisfactory, don’t worry! They can be fitted with glasses that will make bring their vision up to a satisfactory level when they’re behind the wheel.

It is recommended that any eye tests your drivers have are documented so that you can supply evidence that you have been fulfilling your duty of care.

Why is driver eyesight so important?

Of course, it is vital that your drivers have sufficient eyesight so that they are not a danger to themselves or others. Poor vision leads to drivers not perceiving hazards in time, meaning a collision with pedestrians, cyclists or other vehicles becomes increasingly likely.

39% of road traffic accidents in 2019 were caused by drivers failing to observe their surroundings properly. A good portion of these accidents may be attributed to poor eyesight. It bears asking how many of these incidents could have been prevented had their ability to see properly be above the minimum requirement?

Knowingly driving with sub-par vision could result in fines of up to £1,000, penalty points on licences and even prosecution if a serious incident occurs as a result, which could all have massive repercussions on your business.

How to tell if drivers should have their vision tested

If your drivers are experiencing certain symptoms, it could be a sign that their vision has deteriorated.

Make sure your drivers have their eyes tested if they are experiencing:

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Pressure behind the eyes
  • Double vision
  • Noticing halos around lights
  • Difficulty seeing at night

It is probable that the reason so many UK drivers have poor vision is that our eyesight tends to deteriorate so slowly that we don’t even notice it happening. This makes it increasingly difficult to identify when there is a problem, as drivers may just think their vision is normal! That’s why it is all the more important to repeat the license plate test on a regular basis. Failing to do so could, as mentioned, result in serious consequences for your drivers, your business, and other road users.

How can Fuel Card Services help?

Ensuring each and every driver in your business has adequate eyesight is a one of many safety concerns that fleet managers might have. However, drivers are only half of the equation – you also need to monitor the safety of your vehicles!

With the MyDrive.Safe app, your drivers can efficiently and thoroughly carry out vehicle safety checks on their phone. This means plenty of time saved on admin and tamper proof records. When your drivers use MyDrive.Safe, you can rest easy with the knowledge that the vehicles they use day in and day out are safe to drive, and you’re also fulfilling your duties as a fleet manager.

Get in touch with Fuel Card Services today to see how we could help your business remain safe out on the road!