Accidents happen when we ‘don’t see it coming’ – explaining why poor vision and driver fatigue are two leading causes of road accidents.

“I didn’t see him coming”, “the car came out of nowhere”, “the other driver must be blind” – these words are commonly muttered after a road accident and although they might sound like excuses, they are probably all true.

The fact is that poor vision and driver fatigue are among the leading causes of accidents on South African roads. Motorists don’t see them coming.

With the end of year holidays just around the corner, thousands of South Africans will be hitting the roads. It is a time of year when accidents and deaths on the roads spiral. With poor vision and poor visibility among the main causes of road accidents, Ruahan Naude, CEO at Dynamic Vision, says that motorists should have their eyes checked.

Why you should have your eyes tested

“An optometrist will check visual acuity and depth perception which has the greatest effect on vision while driving. Visual acuity is the sharpness of a driver’s vision and helps to judge space and distance between objects. Depth perception is what people use to determine the length, width, and height of an object. Depth perception is also important to determine how fast an object is moving.

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“An eye test is especially important if you have been experiencing eye fatigue, blurred vision or sore, red eyes. These symptoms could indicate problems with your vision which could, in turn, have an impacr on your safety on the road,” says Ruahan Naude, CEO at Dynamic Vision.

Sunglasses are important

He stresses that sunglasses with polarised lenses are a must-have for every drivereven those with perfect vision. These lenses stop glare from headlights, the sun, and even wet road surfaces. They also filter out harmful ultraviolet radiation. In misty and foggy conditions, polarised lenses can also sharpen details and improve contrast. Reducing strain on the eyes and providing UV protection with polarised lenses makes driving more comfortable and safer.

Conventional sunglasses cannot effectively filter out glare and in many conditions, such as in fog weather, they can reduce visibility,” says Naude.

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Making driving in the dark safer

According to Naude, some people also experience loss of colour perception and increased eye sensitivity in the dark. To many people these headlights, therefore, feel brighter and more blinding. This can make driving at night uncomfortable, stressful and unsafe. Some lens manufacturers have developed lenses and coatings to specifically address these sensitivities.

For instance, SEIKO Drive is a lens that has been optimised for driving. It is available in single vision and progressive lenses (called Drive X). The progressive lens has a wider intermediate area, to give wearers a clear view of the side mirrors and dashboard while driving and both provide excellent clarity in the distance.

These lenses come standard with a Road Clear Coating (RCC) which helps to reduce glare and reflections while driving, especially at dusk or at night.  This means less eyestrain and more visual comfort. Polarised driving lenses are a great option for daytime driving, as they reduce glare and improve contrast.

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Safe driving tips

Naude recommends following these tips for safer driving:

  • Do not drive when you are tired. Have a good night’s sleep before tackling a long distance.
  • Make sure that your windscreen is clean and scratch-free.
  • Ensure that your windscreen wipers are in good working order in the event of rain.
  • Clean your headlights and make sure that the bulbs are in good working order.
  • Don’t look into oncoming headlights – it will take longer to recover from the glare.
  • Reduce your speed in conditions of poor visibility such as in the dark and when it is foggy or raining.
  • Dim your dashboard. Bright lights from the dashboard and instrument panel of the car can distract you from the road.
  • Stop regularly at petrol stations and rest stops to stretch your legs and give your eyes a rest from focusing on the road.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.