As a fleet manager, or the owner of a business which relies on its fleet and drivers, then you are bound to already have adequate insurance in place. You will also have a fully functional process in place for checking insurance renewals and a claims management policy. You will ensure each of the drivers in your company is fit for work but strangely, it is often the important of a drivers’ eyesight which gets forgotten. If you employ drivers in your business, then their eyesight is your problem and you need to be paying close attention.
Driver Eyesight and your Legal Obligations
It is clearly common sense that you need to be able to clearly see your surroundings, both near and far, is essential when driving. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has specific requirements for drivers’ eyesight which you can check out fully on the government’s Driving Eyesight Rules web page. It is important to note that there are different rules for drivers of buses and lorries than general drivers so these guidelines should be read in full and applied to your fleet drivers.
EU legislation also states the all UK employees driving for official business for their employment should have eyesight tests are regular intervals to keep their licenses. For the majority of drivers they need to be having an eyesight test every 10 or 15 years, but drivers of commercial vehicles in categories C and D must be tested every 5 years.
Drivers also have a responsibility to themselves and should assess their own fitness to drive on the road. However, as a fleet manager or company owner who is insuring the driver, you also bear some of the responsibility.
Employers’ Responsibility for Eyesight Tests
The Health and Safety Executive put legal responsibilities on employers when it comes to their drivers’ health at work. The responsibilities with regard to drivers all centre around the fact that the employer is accountable for ensuring that all employees driving on company business are fit to do so. This is the case whether in a company vehicle or doing business in their own car. This is the case for all work-related driving aside from commuting to and from the place of business.
You have to adhere to this responsibility and ensure you actively take steps to ensure you are doing all you can to ensure your drivers fitness to work. If you don’t then if an accident occurs and a claim is made, your policy could be voided. In even more serious circumstances and a fatal accident occurs your company could be charged with corporate manslaughter. This is how important it is to ensure your drivers are fit for work and this includes ensuring their vision is satisfactory for work.
When it comes to organising eyesight tests, employees have the right to request that their employer pays for the test if they are required to use display screens (such as computers). There is no obligation that the employer has to pay for the tests or arrange them, but it is often a cost that employers choose to take on, for the overall protection of their business.
There are various eye test schemes and initiatives used by employers and any business who relies upon employees driving on their behalf, from couriers to taxi firms, would benefit from one of these schemes.
Steps towards Safer Drivers
If you are seriously considering your employees’ eyesight for the first time, then it is worth beginning by taking stock of the employees who drive on behalf of your business and checking in with them regarding their most recent eyesight tests. It is also advisable to keep records to protect your company in case of a claim and these records could include:
- A full log of all your drivers and when they had their most recent eye test, as well as when they are due for another
- A comprehensive suspension from driving duties process for any driver who fails their eye test
- An awareness raising campaign so drivers understand the importance of regular eye tests to remain in their jobs
- Any information about your chosen eyesight test scheme, such as vouchers or the percentage you will offer to pay towards tests and lenses.
As an employer the buck stops with you when it comes to drivers insured on your policy, so it’s in your best interests to ensure they are fit and safe to be behind the wheel.