Daylight Saving Time – More vision problems!
It’s that time of year again. With most of us setting our clocks back over the weekend to mark the end of DST (Daylight Savings Time), a new survey indicates that nearly a third of all drivers report vision trouble while driving in darkness. Poor vision causes greater impairment at night. Particular difficulties include the ability to see road signs, pedestrians, road hazards and headlight glare from oncoming vehicles.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 90% of a driver’s reaction is dependent on their vision. Additionally, the NSC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that fatality rates at night are three times higher than those during the day.
Eyesight problems become more prevalent as we age and the driving of older people is more likely to be impaired by eyesight problems.
According to Transport Canada, Drivers aged 65 and over represent 17% of the fatalities even though they only account for 14% of the licensed drivers. The rate of fatalities per distance traveled starts to increase considerably at 75 and over, and it is reported by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators or CCMTA’s Medical Standards for Drivers, factors such as failing vision must be considered.
According to “Shedding Light on Driving in the Dark,” a nationwide survey of 515 subjects that wear glasses, sponsored by Road & Travel Magazine and Johnson & Johnson contact lenses, 32% of drivers say they have difficulty seeing all or most of the time while driving in the dark. More than a quarter (26%) report trouble seeing signs or exits while 20% acknowledge difficulty seeing animals or pedestrians, and 20% also have difficulty seeing turns in the road. 22% also report problems in judging distance while driving in the dark.
Survey respondents complained of eyestrain (38%), dry or tired eyes (34%), fatigue (25%), headaches (19%), inability to focus (18%) and double or blurred vision (15%) while driving in the dark. 61% say headlights from cars in front, or behind them are particularly bothersome, while 48% report experiencing glare symptoms or photophobia (light sensitivity) while driving in dark conditions.
Shockingly, while 73% of these drivers say they believe correcting their vision problems would improve their ability to drive in low light conditions, only 27% have inquired with an eye care professional about treatment options.
“How tragic is it to discover that many of these horrendous consequences for pedestrians, passengers and the driver’s themselves” noted Dr. Alan Boyco, an optometrist in Vancouver, Canada “could have been completely thwarted by simply undergoing an eye exam?”
Some drivers who pass the driving eyesight test still exhibit impaired driving due to poor eyesight.
Cataracts cause more significant driving impairment than most other forms of poor vision, but a cataract extraction procedure can solve these problems.
So what can you do to keep you and your loved ones safe on the dark roads?
Perform a ‘winter’ prep of your car. Clean your headlights, make sure the inside of your windshield and side windows are ‘squeaky’ clean. Check your windshield wipers; especially the blades. A great trick to revive your old blades, according to Dr. Boyco, is to aggressively wipe the edge of the wiper blade with a small amount of rubbing alcohol most conveniently performed with a disposable alcohol pad. This will remove any soapy film or road residue, road debris, dirt, and oil that builds up over time.
You may just need a new prescription for contact lenses or glasses. Possibly you only need a coating upgrade for your specs – as glare, halo’s and reflections are often ameliorated with an upgrade to digital lenses, or an inexpensive anti-reflection coating. Other tips include:
- Use your fog lights! Most cars are equipped with them, but few people seem to use them. These work best on dark stretches of road with little or no ambient light.
- When encountering excessive glare from oncoming sources, keep your eyes on the right shoulder of the lane and use it as your steering route guide.
- Try to stick to routes with which you’re familiar.
- Plan on a little extra driving time and avoid distractions.
Problems with night driving are most often the earliest indicators that your eyes need some attention.
Get your eyes checked by an optometrist. The average Canadian goes over 4 and a half years between eye exams. You can drop in at any of our 17 conveniently located Image Optometry clinics and resolve all of your vision issues in just one or two visits!
Happy Daylight Savings!