Graham Hurdle's Blog: 21 March 2013 - Will fleets turn a blind eye to new police powers?
20 March 2013
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
The police have been given enhanced powers regarding drivers with shoddy eyesight. Now immediate action can be taken against any motorist unable to read a licence plate at a distance of 20 metres; their driving licence being stripped within a matter of hours.
So will this cause a shudder of fear through the corporate sector or will many turn a blind eye?
After all, it was only a few months back that a Specsavers' survey revealed that one in three UK drivers is putting themself, and other road users, at risk by not meeting the legal vision standard for driving.
On that basis the Police could stop every third driver and become fully employed requesting licence withdrawals from the DVLA.
I agree that this is a good step forward, because it is extremely dangerous for people to be driving with sub standard vision and something needs to be done about it. But what action will really be taken?
Let me remind you again of the Brake and Direct Line survey which revealed that 31% of at-work drivers admit to texting at the wheel. 17% admit to grooming whilst driving, 37% to talking on a hands-free mobile phone, 54% to speeding in 60mph limits and 76% going more than 5mph over the limit in a 30 zone.
It would seem the threat of legal action is making little impact on people's behaviour, and so I find it hard to believe that queues of company car and van drivers will be appearing at the optician's door.
The fact is, we simply aren't making these taboo issues. As a champion of road safety I frequently feel like a minority voter trying to call for others to join me in the fight against the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
What's required is a level of social unacceptability to emerge resulting in offending drivers, who are speaking on their phone, driving with poor eyesight or texting at the wheel, being vilified by their peers so that they would no sooner carry out unsafe practices behind the wheel as they would use the opposite sex's toilet!
Yes, stronger Police powers are good. But its cultural change thats needed, and I call on our fleet managers to begin the process of shifting their drivers' attitudes as part of a long-term move to far safer UK roads.