By Amanda White 31 December 2009
Jaama, the fleet management software and risk management specialist, has introduced functionality to its online Key2 Fleet Management system to ensure that company drivers have their eyesight checked regularly ahead of the introduction of new European laws in 2011.
While best practice suggests that all drivers should have their eyesight checked at an optician every two years, there is currently no legislation demanding that once a person has passed the mandatory sight test during their driving test that this is adhered to. The new law, which member states including the UK have until 2013 to implement into national legislation will mean that all drivers must undergo compulsory eyesight tests.
It is expected that holders of commercial vehicle licences will have to have their eyes tested every five years, with private licence holders being tested every 10-15 years. The EU legislation also allows for shorter periods between eye tests for new drivers, those over 50 years of age, and for specific medical reasons and that in the event of being stopped by the police driving licences should contain information that will identify a driver as requiring glasses or contact lenses.
According to research by Specsavers, the UK’s largest optical retailer, fewer than half of employers have a policy in place to check the eyesight of professional drivers. The driving test sight examination requires a person to read a vehicle number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres. However, most people’s eyesight changes as they age, especially after they reach about 40.
Jaama managing director Jason Francis said: “Regular eyesight tests for all drivers should be a feature of every employers’ occupational road risk management policy.
“Just as employers should regularly check and monitor employees’ driving licences, which Key2 already enables them to do, so they should record when employees last had their vision tested and when further checks are scheduled to be carried out at least bi-annually as recommended by opticians. We would recommend that eyesight checks should also be part of the staff recruitment process.”
“Our Key2 fleet management technology enables employers to compile an online audit of when every driver last had an eyesight test and the system will additionally trigger reminders advising both the employer and the individual when a visit to an optician is next due.”
Marie Jarrold, car fleet controller at BCA, Europe’s largest vehicle auction company, already uses Key2 to record when employees had their eyesight checked and when their next appointment is due. BCA runs a fleet of almost 400 vehicles and Ms Jarrold said: “We recommend that all drivers have their eyesight checked at least every two years. I already use the Jaama system to record eyesight information and issue reminders to employees in advance of their next check.
“We also remind drivers on their monthly mileage returns about the importance of regular eyesight checks. These should be an important part of every company’s health and safety policy and we welcome the EU’s move.”
The current driving test eyesight check has been in place for more than 70 years and Mr Francis said: “Sight and peripheral vision are crucial to safe driving. Over the years peoples’ vision can change. If a person’s eyesight is found not to be good enough for driving, their insurance may be invalidated, they may be liable for three points on their licence, and they are a danger to others.
“The compulsory wearing of seat belts, the mandatory fitment of ABS brakes to new cars, a ban on hand-held mobile telephone use have all been introduced to improve road safety and improving drivers’ eyesight should be viewed as another move to cut the number of accidents on the roads.”
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