Our recent survey, conducted in partnership with Westfield Health, found that one in three motorists (31 per cent) refuse to drive at night, while more than half of Britain’s 34 million motorists admit they struggle to see when driving after dark.
Dazzled by the lights
Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their sight is roadworthy every time they get behind the wheel of a car, yet a quarter of motorists admitted they had trouble focusing at night.
43 per cent said that things looked blurred when driving after dark and almost three quarters (73 per cent) of motorists said that glare from oncoming headlights caused visual discomfort.
More accidents happen at night
So it’s little wonder that more road accidents occur at night than during the day. The adjustment to the nights suddenly beginning to draw in also seems to cause problems for drivers.
A separate three year study conducted by Zurich found that accidents increased by 11 per cent in the fortnight directly after the clocks go back compared to the preceding two weeks.
The halo effect
Halos and reflections around lights and headlamps can make your eyes feel uncomfortable. The most common cause of this is a dirty windscreen (often on the inside as well as the outside) or worn out wiper blades, although scratched or dirty spectacles can be just as bad.
Low light levels at night cause the pupil of the eye to become larger and this can accentuate any focusing errors – no matter how minor – causing blur. At night it’s therefore more important than ever to wear a pair of spectacles or contact lenses with an up to date prescription.
More than 90 per cent of information a driver uses is visual, so ensuring your eyesight is up to scratch is crucial. Most people over the age of about 45 will need some vision correction to see in sharp focus.
Helpful tips for safe night driving
To help you keep a clear view on the road ahead, here’s a handy checklist:
- Make sure you have regular eye examinations – once every two years unless advised otherwise
- Always wear a pair of glasses or contact lenses with your up to date prescription
- Keep a spare pair of glasses in the car if possible
- Don’t use tinted spectacle lenses, but have an anti-reflection coating if necessary
- Keep your windscreen clean inside and out and check your wiper blades for wear
- Check your car’s lights are working properly
Kelly Plahay is acting chairman of the Eyecare Trust as well as being a practising optometrist.
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