Press release

As the clocks go back an hour on Sunday, the AOP warns drivers to take extra care on the road

AOP launches 2020 Don't swerve a sight test campaign highlighting the challenges of driving in the dark

Don't swerve a sight test

When daylight saving time ends this weekend, drivers may find themselves spending more time navigating roads in the dark. The Association of Optometrists (AOP) warns that many people don't take driving as seriously as they should, by continuing to drive with vision below the legal standard.

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, so 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 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 AOP's Voice of Optometry 2020 survey 1 results show that many people don't realise how important good vision is for driving, and its impact on the safety of the individuals who use our roads. Key findings reveal that:

  • 54% of optometrists have seen a patient in the last month whose vision is below the legal standard and is unable to meet the required standard using corrective lenses, who continues to drive
  • 22.2% believe that they are advising more patients not to drive than previously 
  • 40.2% have had a conversation with a patient who has concerns about a family member's ability to drive due to their vision

Dr Beasley continued: "Since the survey, Eye Health UK 2 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 and to help ensure you're traveling safely, the AOP has put together tips for driving in the dark."

Warning signs that you may have problems with driving at night 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 - Adopt a Mrs Hinch sensibility for your car. 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 RoSPA 3, 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, and is designed to encourage all drivers to have regular sight tests. Members of the public and those in the optometry profession can share resources available on the campaign page at www.aop.org.uk/dontswerve 

Ends 

For media enquiries, please contact Mary Jones, Interim PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.

Notes to Editors

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk

  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
  3. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). It is not possible to calculate the exact number of sleep related accidents, but research shows that driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents