Vehicles: Seeing While You Drive

Vehicles: Seeing While You Drive

Using your eyes properly can make you a better driver.  Here are a few tips:

Be a “shifty” character!  Your eyes send about 40 new pictures to your brain every second, so it’s a good idea to shift your gaze every few seconds when driving. This helps avoid the highway hypnosis that can lead you into an accident.  It also relaxes the eye muscles.  Remember that physical and mental fatigue are common causes of eyestrain, blurred vision or hot and tired eyes.  When your eyes feel tired on a long trip, find a safe place and pull over and take a break.  Professional drivers use power naps.  A fifteen-minute nap can help you get to your destination safely.

Train Your Eyes to Help You Drive. We can see clearly only through a narrow cone of central vision. However, we also have fringe vision that enables us to see up, down and to the side.  Expert drivers don’t waste their central vision on steering the car.  By gluing your eyes to the road directly ahead, you miss important changes in the flow of traffic.  It’s wiser to rely on your fringe vision for steering, and use your central vision to scan the road, focusing about two blocks ahead in town and a half mile ahead on the open road.  This foresight can help you anticipate emergency situations.

Can You Wear Glasses and Still Be a Good Driver?  Yes! Millions of excellent drivers wear glasses. But have your eyes examined once a year to make sure your glasses are doing their job.  When fitted with a first pair of glasses, or when you change your prescription, drive sparingly until your eyes adjust. Prescription sunglasses are fine for daylight driving, but don’t wear them toward evening.  And just as you should keep your car windshield clean, also keep your glasses free of dust and smudges that can reduce your vision.

How to Drive at Night.  Twice as many accidents occur at night, mostly because our eyes are poorly equipped for seeing in the dark.  Twilight is an especially dangerous time.  Objects seem farther away than they really are, and it’s hard to gauge depth and speed.  When driving at night, take a few minutes to get your eyes accustomed to the dark after going from a brightly lit room to a dark road.  Bright lights along the road side can also affect your distance vision.  When passing intersections with bright lights along the road, it is advisable to slow down as you leave the brightly lighted area to allow your eyes to adjust to the car’s head light pattern.

Perhaps the most annoying night driving problem, however, is glare from on coming headlights.  Never stare right into approaching beams.  Reduce the glare by glancing off to the right of the oncoming lights.

The Problem of “Old” Eyes.  Advancing years inevitably dull our vision. Fortunately, we find that older people generally compensate by driving cautiously and by having their eyes checked regularly, a two-step program all drivers should follow.