Call for professional drivers to have two-year eye test as standard

Professional drivers in the transport, passenger transport and logistics sectors should have an eye test every two years, on either a mandatory or voluntary basis, a fleet insurance specialist has said.

McCarron Coates says good eyesight has become more critical since the introduction of smart motorways and vision-focused driver-safety requirements like Greater London’s Direct Vision Standard.

It points to the critical requirement for drivers to note, from some distance away, any visual instruction not to drive on the hard shoulder on a smart motorway, or in a blocked lane in which there is an incident or breakdown. 

It also says there is little point demanding that HGVs have cameras fitted, to help spot cyclists and pedestrians within Greater London, if the driver does not have good horizontal vision, as required by driving law.

McCarron Coates also point to the ageing demographic of HGV and LGV drivers. The average age of an HGV driver is about 50 and in research conducted in 2016, 64% of LGV drivers were aged 45 or over and about 21,000 LGV drivers were aged over 65.  Eyesight deteriorates with age and yet many drivers will not have had eyesight tests for many years.

With many drivers also having to drive vehicles by night, there is also a risk of night blindness. Eye problems, which are already an issue by day, can worsen in the dark.

The broker’s call for more to be done about driver eye health is part of its 20/20 Vision campaign, aimed at keeping drivers and the general public safer. It is based on statistics relating to eye tests, which suggest a health and safety issue that the current law, being too loose and dependent on driver honesty, does not necessarily detect.

“Without a recent eye test, most drivers would have no idea whether they could meet the standard required by driving law, whilst operators trying to test drivers’ vision through the number plate test would need to know the driver did not recognise or have memorised the number plate being read,” said Ian McCarron, director at McCarron Coates.

“Our driving environment is becoming more visually demanding than ever for an HGV, bus and coach or LGV driver and yet we leave operators to create their own eyesight test regime. We would like to see it become a legal requirement for all operators to see eyesight test reports, from all drivers, at least every two years.”

Fellow director, Paul Coates, added: “Just because logging eye-test results every two years is not a legal requirement does not mean that an operator cannot instigate such a procedure. It is part of due diligence and good risk management and another way to demonstrate to an insurer that a fleet takes good care of its drivers and the general public. Any fleet operator wishing to be seen as responsible and caring about its reputation should introduce eye test compliance requirements and document all test results.”                      

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now the editor of our three commercial vehicle titles: The Van Expert, The Truck Expert and Commercial Vehicle Engineer.

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