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Fleet Managers – Don't Overlook the Eye Factor

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has found that around 13 million motorists on Britain's roads are not wearing the glasses or contact lenses needed to correct their vision when behind the wheel – now how frightening is that? It's almost like a surgeon not wearing his glasses - a total hit or miss affair!

As a fleet manager, you really need to now if any of your personnel are included in this staggering statistic. When it comes to mitigating risk, fleet managers know that as well as vehicles being up to scratch, their drivers have to be fit for purpose. No surprise then that more and more fleet operators are routinely checking licences and providing training for high risk employees.

You may think that the individual driver will be aware of any deterioration in his eyesight – but this, according to the RNIB, is a false assumption. Loss of vision creeps up on most people and we are rarely aware of it. Ranging from downtime in a vehicle to possible loss of life, the potential consequences of bad driver eyesight can be horrendous, making a strong argument for fleet managers to keep an eye on their drivers' vision – just as they would for any other risk factor. After all, no fleet manager would enjoy seeing any of their drivers performing like this driver did.

Employers are legally required to ensure that, if necessary, staff wear glasses whilst working at a computer terminal. Currently there is no such requirement to check driver eyesight! However, as of 2011 EU legislation will require all commercial vehicle drivers to have their eyes checked every five years, and private motorists checked every 10-15 years.

To be legally fit to drive, motorists must be able to read an old style number plate (pre-2001) from a distance of 20.5 metres, or a new number place from 20 metres away. However, did you know that it is an offence not to wear corrective lenses if they are needed – and if caught without them, motorists could land themselves with three penalty points and up to a £1,000 fine?

This may make a case to offer some form of incentive for drivers to have their eyesight checked: even looking at it very clinically, the money you could save in terms of downtime, stress and insurance claims would more than cover costs of incentives or of the sight tests themselves.

Posted on 29th March, 2010