Where Do Good Vision and Road Safety Intersect?
This week in India, the country is celebrating its 30th annual Road Safety Week. It is not surprising that road safety is a key concern in a country with the highest number of traffic deaths per annum, and the topics being raised range from infrastructure needs and inner peace that affects driver behavior on the road to drunk driving and excessive speed. Government officials and corporate sponsors are raising awareness about road safety in new and innovative ways to reach even the youngest of road users across the continent.
The Honorable Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transportation and Highways, reiterated the country’s desire to reduce fatal accidents on the road by 50% by 2020 and announced an awareness campaign with Uber. This campaign utilizes a series of comics dedicated to educating younger road users about the dangers of driving under the influence, the need to wear a helmet, and the importance of the Good Samaritan law.
Hyundai announced Safe Move, its safety awareness program that focuses on speeding, traffic laws violations, seat belt usage, and pedestrian safety. Additionally, Roadeo, maybe one of the most out-of-the-box ideas, is a safety robot designed by school students to assist with pedestrian road crossings. Police and other officials will use the robot at traffic junctions to educate students from more than 250 schools and 40 colleges in the Thane district.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has declared 2019-2020 as the National Road Safety Year. This week’s initiative will include health and eye checkup camps for drivers at 20 truckers’ hubs in India, a road safety workshop in participating cities, and other government supported events.
We applaud the efforts of these as they continue to elevate road safety to better the lives of those living in India. Yet, until recently, the intersection of vision and road safety has not received adequate attention – and still does not take a priority place in the road safety conversation today.
Consequently, there is still a lack of awareness around the impact of vision problems on road users of every kind.
The Vision Impact Institute, in partnership with the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), recently completed a four-city study to assess the vision of commercial drivers across India. The findings were staggering and showed more than 30% of commercial drivers were lacking the ability to see in the distance, a necessary skill for those behind the wheel, cycling, or walking in busy streets. It also showed that 29% had unacceptable depth perception, resulting in significantly more accidents when compared to those who had acceptable depth perception.
Uncorrected vision continues to endanger the lives of drivers, passengers and all road users around the world. And while lawmakers should play a key role in ensuring the priority of vision in the safety of communities and countries, personal responsibility for good vision falls on each road user, young and old.