More than three-quarters of employers are unaware of new legislation requiring professional drivers to take more frequent eye tests, according to research from Specsavers.

Yet as many as one in three people who drive as part of their job may have substandard vision, the opticians claim.

Recent legislation on eye tests for drivers, passed in the EU Parliament and due to come into force in 2011, will require commercial licence holders to have eye tests every five years. Holders of private licences will have to be tested every 10 to 15 years.

Specsavers’ poll of 2,000 organisations found that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of employers were unaware of the change, which is aimed at reducing road accidents.

Laura Butler, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: “It is astounding that more than three-quarters of companies have not even heard of this new legislation. We hope to work with HR managers to ensure that basic eye tests are implemented for everyone who drives in the course of their work. For everyone’s safety this should be a priority now, regardless of the date when the actual legislation will come into force.”

Each EU member state has until 2013 to translate the directive into national law.

Many employers offer subsidised eye tests as a voluntary benefit. Although employees that work with computer screens can legally ask for a free eye test and a contribution towards the cost of glasses, requirements for staff that drive as part of their job are new.