With the clocks going back an hour today, the Association Of Optometrists (AOP) is warning drivers to take extra care on the road.
When daylight saving time ends, most of us will find ourselves spending more time navigating roads in the dark.
Optometrist and AOP’s Head of Education, Dr Ian Beasley said:
“It is perhaps unsurprising that a disproportionate number of serious driving accidents occur at night.
“With poor vision identified as a major contributing factor to these statistics, it is crucial to make sure that your eyesight is up to the task.
“An optometrist is highly trained to help tackle the challenges associated with driving in the dark, by ensuring that your vision is corrected to the highest standard.
“They can identify and manage a range of eye conditions that can make visual problems worse. They can also recommend certain lens types and coatings specifically designed for driving in difficult conditions.”
Dr Beasley continued:
“Eye Health UK estimated that five million routine sight tests had been missed over lockdown, and poor eye health could have a significant effect on your driving ability.
“As the days get shorter, driving in the dark presents a unique set of challenges.
“To help ensure you’re travelling safely, the AOP has put together tips for driving in the dark.”
Warning signs that you may have problems with driving in the dark:
- Trouble with oncoming headlights
- Difficulty seeing road markings and street signs
- Needing to drive slowly
- Difficulty with judging distance and speed
Tips to keep safe when driving in the dark
Visit an optometrist. Ensure you see your optometrist, at your local opticians, at least every two years — or more often if your optometrist recommends it. As we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night, and some older drivers’ vision is compromised by cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.
Keep it clean. Clean your windows inside and outside, as a dirty windshield can cause glare and reduce visibility. Check the dirt and grime build up on your headlights, too, as their brightness and range can be reduced.
Look away. Looking at oncoming headlights can leave you dazzled for up to five seconds, so don’t look directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic. If this happens, slow down and, if possible, stop driving until these effects have worn off.
Dim the dashboard. A bright dashboard will hinder your vision, so use the dimmer switch, if you have one.
Don’t be a drowsy driver. Drowsy driving is a serious problem resulting in many thousands of road accidents each year. According to The Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents (RoSPA), research shows that driver fatigue maybe a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents. So, ensure you are rested, and try to avoid driving between midnight and 6am.
Slow down. Reduce your speed and increase your following distance behind the car in front of you.
The AOP is encouraging support for its “Don’t Swerve A Sight Test” campaign, which first launched in 2017. It is designed to encourage all drivers to have regular sight tests.
Find out more about the campaign at www.aop.org.uk/dontswerve
For more health and wellbeing tips from “The People’s Friend”, click here.