AOP reminds drivers to take extra care when the clocks go back

Drivers with low vision are being urged to book a sight test ahead of Daylight Saving changes this Sunday

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is reminding drivers to take extra care on the roads when the clocks go back this Sunday (25 October.)

When Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend, the AOP is concerned that drivers are likely to find themselves spending more time navigating roads in the dark.

The association is therefore reminding those with vision below the legal standard to avoid driving in the dark until they have sought advice from an optical professional.

The AOP’s head of education, optometrist 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, so it is crucial to make sure your eyesight is up to the task.

“An optometrist is highly trained to help tackle the challenges associated with night driving, by ensuring that your vision is corrected to the highest standard. They can also identify and manage a range of eye conditions that can make visual problems worse, as well as recommend certain lens types and coatings specifically designed for driving in difficult conditions.”

The extent of the problem

Eye Health UK2 has estimated that five million routine sight tests have been missed over lockdown.

Added to this, the AOP’s Voice of Optometry 2020 survey1 showed that many people don’t realise how important good vision is for driving, and that the impact on the safety of individuals using our roads is also underestimated.

The survey revealed that 54% of optometrists had seen a patient in the last month who had continued to drive, despite having vision below the legal standard and being unable to meet the required standard using corrective lenses.

It also found that 40.2% of optometrists had had a conversation with a patient who had concerns about a family member’s ability to drive due to their vision. 22.2% believed that they were advising more patients not to drive than they had been previously.

Ensuring road safety

The AOP is again launching its Don’t swerve a sight test campaign, which first ran in 2017, with the intention of encouraging all drivers to have regular sight tests.  

The AOP’s most crucial tip to keep safe when driving at night is to visit an optometrist at least every two years, or more often if required. They are reminding drivers that, as we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night and that our vision may be compromised by cataracts or degenerative eye diseases.

Aside from visiting an optometrist, the AOP is also advising drivers to ensure that their windows are clean on both the inside and outside, as a dirty windshield can cause glare and reduce visibility, and to check for dirt on their headlights to avoid brightness being reduced.

Drivers are also being reminded to use their dimmer switch to avoid having their vision hindered by a bright dashboard, to avoid looking directly into the headlights of oncoming traffic, and to avoid driving whilst tired.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), it is not possible to calculate the exact number of sleep related accidents that occur on the roads. However, research suggests that driver fatigue could be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents.

  1. The Voice of Optometry panel was set up and launched in 2017 by the AOP and conducted by Trueology in 2020. All qualifying AOP members with email addresses were invited to take part in the fourth survey from 28th January 2020. 1072 practising optometrists completed the online survey by the closing date of 2nd March 2020
  2. Eye Health UK - Figure extrapolated from 2019 private eye examination data and GOS statistics