Road Safety and Healthy Vision

Have you ever wondered what role your vision plays in safe driving? If you answered ‘no,’ you are in good company. In fact, the United Nations recently delivered mandates around road safety, but vision standards didn’t even enter the discussion. This omission has led many organizations and working groups around the world to create a significant dialogue around vision standards for drivers and to publish news reports with serious calls to action.

Last month, the European Coalition of Optometry and Optics (ECOO) published a consensus paper called Visual Standards for Driving in Europe. The report highlights a lack of uniform standards across countries in Europe and concludes there is an urgent need to consider additional aspects of visual function, like contrast sensitivity and twilight vision, and their impact on driving safety and performance. It also catalogues each country’s current standards and the timelines for license renewal across the European Union. As a result, the ECOO proposed several calls to action, including creating a standardized visual acuity assessment method to ensure consistency across all countries. The committee also encouraged additional research on applicable assessments and advocating for increased public awareness of fitness to drive.

The Vision Impact Institute is working diligently with our partners on the research and awareness topics. This year alone, our organization has added an additional twenty studies on the topic of vision and driving to our website. Through the systematic review process, we are identifying global gaps in this evidence that will create a stronger dialogue for change. We are also actively advocating for public awareness and policy change around visual standards for drivers by supporting programs like Drive Blind in the UK, creating partnerships with government and commercial driving corporations in India, and empowering a global discussion with change makers dedicated to safer driving. We look forward to sharing more about these successes in the coming months.

When the statistics around road safety and vision clearly show that 60% of road accidents can be attributed to impaired vision, 80% of drivers in India involved in car accidents have at least one visual disability, and in 2012, the cost of road accidents in the UK alone was more than $55 million, we have much work to do. When each European country has a different visual standard for licensing and each state in the United States also creates its own standard, we must work to ensure policymakers take action to prioritize visual health and its role in safer driving.

What are you doing to ensure your roads are safer? At the Vision Impact Institute, we applaud those organizations taking bold steps to increase this conversation. Let’s continue to work together – Giving Vision a Voice!