Advice for drivers during Road Safety Week

Vision plays a vital role in driving, and as a driver it’s important that you ensure you have the best vision possible. To mark Road Safety Week, taking place from 20-26 November, the College of Optometrists has issued advice to drivers encouraging them to ensure their vision is up to standard before getting behind the wheel.

If you are a driver, the College of Optometrists has the following advice for you:

  • The glare of low-lying sun on icy roads can cause difficulty for drivers, so make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out.
  • It’s useful to have a pair of sunglasses in the car to help with the glare from the sun. If you are buying sunglasses, make sure you invest in eyewear that complies with the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013 or that carry a CE mark.  If you need glasses, prescription sunglasses are also available.
  • It can be difficult to see when driving during the long, dark nights of winter so it’s easy to understand why more accidents happen at night. If you are due a sight test, make sure you go to ensure you have the best possible vision.
  • In winter, you may have more difficulty seeing clearly. This is because your pupils are larger in the dark than in the daylight.  Your depth of field decreases when pupils are large and this means you notice blurriness more. This has two effects:  firstly, you may find that your vision without spectacles is OK during day, but not at night, so you need to wear spectacles at night. Secondly, you will notice if your spectacles are not quite right for you more in the dark than in daylight, as small changes in your vision become more noticeable at night.  It is therefore particularly important in winter to make sure that your spectacles are up to date to make sure that things are as clear as they can be.

Dr Susan Blakeney, clinical adviser for the College of Optometrists says “Having good vision is an important part of responsible driving. At the College we advise that people over 40 should have their eyes examined at least every two years. We know that poor vision can cause road accidents; research funded by the College and published last year* looked at contributory factors for just over one million injury-collisions. This found that car drivers aged over 60 were more likely to be involved in a crash where a contributory factor was ‘uncorrected, defective eyesight’, and that this contributory factor increased with age. The research also found that ‘dazzling sun’ was a significant issue for older drivers, so we always advise that you have a pair of sunglasses to hand in your car.”

Further information and advice to help look after your eyes can be found on the College’s Look After Your Eyes website:

*Visual impairment and road safety: Analysis of UK road casualties and contributory factors. Published June 2015. Available on the College of Optometrists website.