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Poor driver vision bringing crash risks, warns VSP

Drivers could be at risk of accidents through poor vision, leaving firms wide open to prosecution under health and safety and duty of care legislation if at-work drivers cause a serious accident.

Jeremy Chadwick, managing director, EMEA at VSP Vision Care

That’s the warning from VSP Vision Care UK, which is urging fleets to carry out regular driver eyesight tests to ensure they’re legally compliant.

The firm, the British arm of giant US-based eye health specialist VSP Global – a not-for-profit vision benefits and services company with almost 90 million members worldwide, says that drivers who do not meet the standards of vision for driving and are involved in an accident invalidate their insurance, and could face imprisonment for up to 14 years if they cause death by dangerous driving and five years for death by careless driving.

However, poor vision is believed to be hugely under-reported in government crash causation data due to the difficulty in determining if eyesight was to blame. Some casualties are likely to occur because drivers are unaware they have a vision problem and have neither corrected it nor reported it to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

A survey by Brake found one in four (25%) UK drivers had not had a vision test in the past two years and 4%, or the equivalent of more than 1.5 million licence holders, had never had their eyes tested. In a separate study by the College of Optometrists, one in 20 people aged above 40 said they had not been for a sight test for at least 10 years or could not recall when they last went.

Jeremy Chadwick, managing director, EMEA at VSP Vision Care, said that employers needed to ensure that all drivers who drove regularly for work had regular eye tests, not least because of natural eye degeneration.

“Because eyesight can decay without us noticing, we recommend having a professional eye test at least every two years, or straight away if a problem arises. This should check vision over distance, as well as other visual defects, including problems seeing things in the central or peripheral vision.

“Companies could find themselves liable in the event of a serious accident involving one of their drivers if they have not met their duty of care requirements to their employees.

“Employees who drive for work should consider asking their employers for regular eye tests and comprehensive optical cover, such as that we offer through our WellVision Plan. This provides five levels of cover, but all include comprehensive eye examinations and, all but the base level, provide prescription driving glasses,” he said.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.