Vision is one of the most importance senses when driving yet not enough attention is paid to this critical aspect of ‘driver health’. So says Eugene Herbert, managing director of Masterdrive, who adds that drivers can attend every training course available but if there is a problem with their eyesight, it may still not help.
“Studies say up to 80% of crashes could be avoided with better vision. This is because approximately 90% of the stimulus a person uses to drive safely is collected through their vision,” he says.
Visual acuity – which refers to how sharp a driver’s vision is – and depth perception are two aspects of vision that have the greatest affect on a person’s driving.
“Your visual acuity affects your ability to judge space and distance between objects – or between yourself and an object. You use this vision, for example, to judge whether it is safe to move into another lane in traffic. Visual acuity is also important to clearly see road signs, animals, pedestrians and cyclists,” says Herbert.
Peripheral vision is also affected by visual acuity. This is your total field of perception which you see without moving your head or eyes.
“When you are stationary, you have a 180° horizontal field of vision and a 130° vertical field of vision. Yet, when moving at 100kph, your visual field is only 40°. To see outside of your peripheral range you need to be stimulated with a movement which is why indicator lights flash,” says Herbert.
Depth perception is what you use to determine the length, width and height of an object. Your depth perception helps you manoeuver around vehicles without bumping into them. Depth perception is also important to determine how fast an object is moving. You make use of depth perception when crossing a road or when you need to move onto the opposite side of the road to overtake.
“It is for all these reasons that we strongly emphasise the importance of professionally testing vision along with training so as to create safe drivers. We understand that many factors can affect a person’s driving and we hope this will help us in our drive to improve road safety,” says Herbert.