Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Road Haulage Operators Need to Ensure Their Drivers Eye Health

DVLA Calls for More Self Testing
Shipping News Feature
UK – For a road haulage driver particularly, eyesight is something which needs checking regularly and the DVLA's latest call for all motorists, whether commercial vehicle or private drivers, should be heeded by all. A condition of the Operator's Licence for transport companies is to ensure anyone in charge of their vehicles has regular checks, yet often this is overlooked or simply ignored. In 2017 the Government announced that the DVLA would include an eye test reminder when motorists renew their photocard driving licence.

Whereas it is legal to drive a car or van when having only one eye, monocular vision is not allowed for anyone behind the wheel of a lorry of 7.5 tonnes upward, but even lesser conditions can render a driver illegal if uncorrected. The DVLA points out that the initial regular test required is simplicity itself - reading a number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

This simple test, first developed 80 years ago and still used to verify vision is adequate for driving during a practical exam, should be a regular part of commercial driver reviews but many conditions, such as blindness in a single eye, would not necessarily be revealed by such an examination. Estimates put the number of drivers on Britain’s roads who would fail even the 20 metre test at 5 million and the DVLA’s own research states that only half of drivers knew about the number plate check and used it regularly. Jack Dromey MP commented on the DVLA call, saying:

"Any efforts to improve the health of our eyes when we get behind the wheel should be commended, but the truth is that too many people are still dying and being seriously injured on our roads because of poor driver eye health. The UK's number plate test remains one of the weakest eyesight tests used by any country in Europe. I would encourage the Government to focus instead on making sure drivers get their eyes tested regularly and consider reviewing the efficacy of the number plate test, which is, at best, a rudimentary assessment of driver eye health."

Government rules on commercial vehicle drivers make it very clear that any sight problems must be referred to the DVLA and, if the condition demands it, you will need an eyesight test at a DVSA driving test centre. Vision Express has been conducting its ‘Eye Tests Save Lives’ since 2015’s Road Safety Week and we have highlighted previously its innovative ‘Vision Bus’ initiative. Jonathan Lawson, CEO at Vision Express, commented on the DVLA’s latest campaign, saying:

"It's a positive first step to see the DVLA is spearheading a public awareness campaign to encourage drivers to take their eye health seriously - something Vision Express has been campaigning for. It is reported that as many as 1.5 million UK licence holders have never even had an eye test, and road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties.

“However, the 'number plate' test was introduced over 80 years ago before the Second World War and eye testing has advanced significantly since then. The NHS recommends people should have an eye test every two years, so we would encourage the DVLA to remind drivers that whilst passing the number plate check might be the legal limit, the Government's own advice is to have a full eye health check with a qualified optometrist."

Photo: Jack Dromey MP at a recent Vision Express 'Eye Tests Save Lives' event