Check your eyesight, reduce your risk
ROAD SAFETY and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers of all ages to ensure they get regular eye tests. For any driver, taking care of your eyes helps show a commitment to road safety, especially because changes in vision can often be so slow that we are not aware of them.
GEM chief executive David Williams MBE said: “Our eyes are the most important sense we have when it comes to driving. Around 90% of the information we process is visual, so what we see is a fundamental element of our decision making. Many of us take our eyesight for granted, so the tendency is to ignore eye health.
“GEM has long argued the case for compulsory regular eyesight testing for drivers of all ages. The present situation relies on individual drivers taking responsibility for their own eye health. That’s why it’s so important to get regular checks.
“Changes in our vision can be slow, so we may not notice subtle differences. We are busy with work or family, we worry it could be expensive to have it checked, or maybe we’re afraid to acknowledge that a problem exists.
“Our eyes can develop diseases in their own right, or may be affected by other conditions such as diabetes.”
A survey of 3,391 GEM members in March 2016 revealed that 3.6% had not had their eyes tested for more than three years; 2.2% said they had not been tested for more than 10 years.
GEM has prepared five simple tips to encourage the best possible eye health for all drivers:
- Get an eye test. The guidelines are every two years until the age of 70, and annually after this. Eye tests are free for anyone aged over 60.
- If you have been told you must wear glasses for driving, then make sure you wear them. Failure to do so not only puts you and those around you at higher risk, but it could also invalidate your insurance if you’re involved in a collision.
- Always carry a spare pair of glasses with you, especially on long journeys or when driving abroad. In some countries it’s a legal requirement and you can be fined if you do not carry the mandatory spare glasses.
- If driving at night is causing you discomfort, do get your eyes tested. A wide range of conditions and diseases, including cataracts, can contribute to poor night vision.
- Don’t deal with night-time glare by wearing sunglasses or tinted lenses. If glare is causing you discomfort, try adjusting the height of your seat, and make a point of not staring into the headlights of an oncoming car or truck.
Remember, the police have the power to require a driver, at any time, to undertake an eyesight test in good daylight. The maximum penalty for driving with defective sight is £1000, three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification.
David Williams concludes: “Eyesight is incredibly important, so as drivers we need to make sure we take regular steps to check that our eyes are healthy and our vision is as good as it can be.”
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