Thursday, 21 April 2011 09:56

Proposed DVLA changes put company drivers at greater risk. Obligatory eyetests essential

Specsavers Press Release, March 2011. "Proposed DVLA changes put company drivers at greater risk. Obligatory eyetests essential."

Interested parties have only until 28 April 2011 to respond to the DVLA’s Consultation on Amendments to Driver Medical Standards. Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is calling for changes to the rules to help protect those who drive in the course of their work and minimise the legal risk for their employers.


In its consultation document, the DVLA plans to actually make the basic number plate test, devised in the 1930s, even easier. Drivers will soon merely have to be able to read a number plate at 17.5 metres (as opposed to the current 20 metres) on the day of their test. This does not even begin to take into account the need for good peripheral vision and the ability to refocus between different distances, such as from driving instruments in the car to objects on the road. Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is calling for an obligatory eyetest to be implemented for all who drive in the course of their work and repeated as often as directed by their optometrist.


Without a change to the regulations it is company drivers who are most at risk. RoSPA states that company car drivers are 49% more likely to be involved in an accident than ordinary drivers, even after their higher mileages are taken into account. Specsavers Corporate Eyecare believes that it is essential for safety on our roads that obligatory eyesight tests are implemented at least for company drivers. The current onus of responsibility is on the employer, and with the Corporate Manslaughter Act in place, theoretically this could mean high penalties if employees do not have eyesight fit for driving.



While the DVLA states that: “many employers have their own procedures in place to ensure medical fitness to drive”, research conducted by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare in January of this year reveals that the majority of companies do not offer eyecare to their drivers.

  • Over half (53%) of companies do not offer eyecare to those employees who drive in the course of their work
  • 14% of companies only offer eyecare to some drivers
  • Less than a third (32%) offer eyecare to all company drivers


Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: “We welcome the fact that the driving laws that are being reviewed if they are going to improve the safety on our roads, however we would like more emphasis on the ability to actually test eyesight.  While we understand that the DVLA does not want to burden drivers with unnecessary hoops to jump through, good eyesight is surely an absolutely essential prerequisite for driving. We feel that company drivers are at particular risk and that with eye examinations available for less than £20, it is a cost that is easily justifiable.”

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For further information please contact:

Laura Butler                                           Sharon Mason

Specsavers Corporate Eyecare              SMUK Marketing and PR

Mob: 07796 685642                               Mob:    07747 611773

Tel:       01252 843350






Third Eurpoean Driving Directive:


DLVA consultation:


Specsavers research:

Conducted by eMedia in January 2011 on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare. The research covers a broad cross-section of companies, representing both private and public sectors, from SMEs to companies employing over 10,000 members of staff. In total the research was conducted among 270 employers and covered the policies governing over 420,000 employees.


About Specsavers:

  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world
  • The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,500 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group is forecast to reach a record £1.4 billion in 2009/10
  • Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners
  • Specsavers employs more than 26,000 staff
  • Specsavers was voted Britain’s most trusted brand of opticians for the ninth year running by the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey 2010
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers * – 9,700,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2009
  • Specsavers was ranked No 1 for both eye tests and glasses in the UK *
  • Over 70% (4.5m) of all Specsavers eye tests in the UK are NHS-funded.
  • Specsavers share by volume of the total optical market (including retailers that are not opticians) is 34%. Our share of the opticians market is 39%.*
  • Specsavers is the largest retail provider of home delivery contact lenses in Europe and one of the top two retail suppliers of continuous wear lenses in the world
  • Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and offers a hearing service from more than 400 locations
  • Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. During its three-year support for Diabetes UK it raised more than £250,000 to fund research into diabetic retinopathy
  • Since 2003 more than a quarter of a million glasses have been collected and recycled by Specsavers stores for Vision Aid Overseas, for use in developing countries. Specsavers stores across Britain raised more than £300,000 in 2009 to fund a dedicated eyecare clinic and teaching facility in Zambia, supported by Vision Aid Overseas. Stores will raise an additional £300,000 to continue the project.


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