What you need to know about driver eye tests

According to Brake, the road safety charity, an estimated 2,900 road casualties are caused by poor driver eyesight each year. A 2014 survey involving the charity revealed that one in eight drivers who need glasses or lenses had driven without the appropriate eyewear during the past year, while more than 1.5 million UK drivers have never received an eye test.

Driving with poor vision is dangerous and illegal, but surprisingly common. Many motorists are not even aware they need corrected vision. As a fleet manager, tasked with the responsibility of reducing risk, it’s very much within your interests to ensure all your drivers have eyesight fit for purpose.

The Law

  • Currently, employers are not legally required to ensure that their drivers receive eye tests, or that they wear corrective lenses if necessary
  • It’s an offence not to wear corrective lenses if you need them when driving. Vision-impaired motorists caught without necessary eyewear could face a £1000 penalty and three penalty points
  • The DVLA’s ‘standards of vision for driving’ requires that all motorists are able to read a car number-plate from 20 metres, as tested at the start of the practical driving test
  • The minimum eyesight standard for driving is a visual acuity of 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale, with eyewear if necessary
  • For lorry and bus drivers, the minimum eyesight standard is a visual acuity of at least 0.8 (6.75) in the best eye, and at least 0.1 (6/60) in the other eye
  • Lorry and bus drivers must also have a visual field of at least 160 degrees
  • Drivers over 70 years old must declare that their eyesight meets minimum legal standards when renewing their licence, but don’t have to show proof of this

What you can do

Although you are not yet legally obliged to test that your drivers’ eyesight is fit for purpose, it makes sense for you to incentivise them to have their vision checked. The cost of an incentive would pale in comparison to the emotion, time and money saved by avoiding eyesight-related incidents.