With the nights getting darker and the weather getting worse, you would think that riding through the winter months held enough hazards for riders, however, it seems there is one more to add to the list… a new survey commissioned by the Eyecare Trust and not for profit insurer Westfield Health reveals more than half of Britain’s 34 million motorists struggle to see when driving after dark, whilst many more avoid driving at night altogether.
A quarter of motorists (25%) admitted they had trouble focusing at night whilst 43 per cent said that things looked blurred when driving after dark and almost three quarters (73%) of motorists said that glare from oncoming headlights caused visual discomfort.
A separate three-year study conducted by Zurich Connect found that accidents increased by 11 per cent in the fortnight directly after the clocks go back compared to the preceding two weeks.
Kelly Plahay, Chair of the Eyecare Trust, comments: “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. Ideally everyone should have their eyes checked every two years as your sight can change without it being obvious.”
This advice applies to you guys too, when was the last time you went to get your eyes tested? Riding a bike or a scooter relies heavily on your observation skills, your riding decisions are based on what you see, so if you can’t see properly then your decisions aren’t going to be as good as they can be. Similarly, maybe think about leaving an extra bit of room in your safety bubble as the driver in front of you may not be able to see you…
The driving after dark survey found one in three motorists (31%) refuse to drive at night. 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. Make sure your visor is clean and if you wear glasses then give them a clean before you get on the bike. Scratched visors can spread the light from oncoming vehicles so store your helmet properly when you’re not riding and think about getting a new visor if it becomes damaged.
Older people often find night driving particularly stressful. With increasing age, the lens of the eye tends to yellow, reducing vision clarity. Major discomfort from glare can be caused by cataracts – a clouding of the eye lens which requires specialist treatment. In England and Wales, it is estimated that around 2.5 million people aged 65 or older have some degree of visual impairment caused by cataracts.
Things to consider…
- Make sure you have regular eye examinations – once every two years unless advised otherwise
- If you need glasses for driving/riding then make sure you wear them
- Keep your visor clean inside and out
- Check your lights are working properly- this helps you see on the road, but also gives other road users a chance to see you
- Consider wearing brightly coloured/hi-visibility clothing whilst riding
- Treat your visor with an anti-fog spray or fit a Pinlock to prevent it from steaming up