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Don’t lose sight of the dangers of driving.

Today marks the start of road safety week, an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness on key safety issues in a bid to prevent road deaths and injuries. As the UK saw a total of 115,584 casualties in 2020, of which an estimated 23,529 were killed or seriously injured1, it is vital that we all continue to work collectively towards making our roads safer. With vision being a key factor in this, as poor eyesight can compromise safe driving, having regular eye tests is an important step towards minimising road accidents.

While there are multiple causes for road accidents in the UK, from reckless and careless driving to harsh weather conditions, the connection between poor vision and road deaths and injuries is one that simply can’t be ignored. Road crashes involving a driver with poor vision account for approximately 2,900 casualties each year, costing the UK a total of £33 million annually.2

Although there is a basic sight exam as part of the UK practical driving test, there is no later assessment to ensure that long-term drivers have maintained the same level of vision as when they initially passed their test. Poor vision can compromise visual acuity, field of vision, night vision, and contrast sensitivity, with drivers often being far slower to recognise and anticipate hazards on the road or mistakes of other drivers, which can have devastating consequences.

This Road Safety Week we are warning drivers and other road users of the dangers of poor eyesight. With this year’s theme being ‘Road Safety Heroes’, celebrating the heroic work of road safety professionals, we hope to help raise awareness on how we can all play a part in making journeys safer for everyone.

Dave Nichols, Community Engagement Manager for Brake, commented: “We’re delighted Optical Express is getting involved with Road Safety Week and stepping up for safe streets. Nobody should be killed or seriously injured on our roads and we already know the many solutions that can prevent these tragedies and allow us all to get around in safe and healthy ways. It’s vital everyone gets involved with learning about, shouting about and celebrating these solutions, whether through campaigning for safer roads, or choosing to use roads as safely as possible. Together we can make roads safer for everyone.”

Optical Express revealed that three in five glasses/contact lens wearers said they had driven without the correct eyewear, which is an offence that could result in prosecution as it disregards the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) regulations. The DVLA states that you must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’, as driving without them can endanger yourself and others.

In order to help keep yourself and other road users safe, you should get your eyes tested at least once every two years, in line with the national guidance. Having regular eye tests can play a crucial part in cutting road collisions, helping to make roads safer for everyone. Despite the importance of having frequent sight tests, however, figures show that 15% of us still fail to do so, with 6% even claiming to have never had an eye test before.*3

Clinical Services Director, Stephen Hannan, said: “Good eyesight is an essential requirement for safe driving, as drivers with poor vision increase their risk of collisions due to not seeing hazards and their inability to react in time to dangers on the road. It is imperative that members of the public who hold a driving licence have a regular eye examination, whether they wear glasses and contact lenses or not, in order to make sure they meet the necessary requirements.”

“As passing the sight test when you first passed your driving test doesn’t necessarily mean your sight is still up to standard. It is a very important public safety matter in the interest of the individual driver and the general public, as well as being a legal requirement before driving a car,” he concludes.

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