Driving with Impaired Vision
There are obvious concerns with driving with impaired vision. For most people, this can be corrected with corrective lenses. However, for the elderly there is more at stake than just acuity (the ability to see small prints or far away objects). The elderly, defined as older than 65 years old makes up about 12-14% of the population and about 17% of traffic fatalities. By the time one is 60 years old, they will have only 33% of available light hitting the retina in the eye compared with a 20 year old. By age 70, this is decreased to 12%. There is also a decreased contrast sensitivity and ability to deal with glare. Most people at this age range function just fine in their daily activity. They have adopted many strategies to deal with decreasing vision. The vision loss has occurred very slowly, over decades worth of time. Therefore, it becomes difficult to accurately assess one's ability or that of a loved one to drive in a way that avoids accidents. Some advice includes avoiding night driving. See your eye doctor and make sure your vision is optimized. Be wary of traveling unknown roads. Most accidents involving the elderly occur at intersections and this may be due to unfamiliarity with the road.
How about the driver with good vision who wants to avoid an accident. There a few things you can do. First, make sure you do have good vision. If you are buying a new car, get one that is a bright color. Contrary to what one would think, red is the least visible color and is not a good choice. The best is probably lime-yellow. However, there are no studies looking at visibility of cars based on car color. Use your daytime running lights. Slow down at intersections, even if you have the right of way. Try to be aware of your relative "invisibility". For instance, if the sun is setting behind you, the oncoming cars, or pedestrians crossing a road, may not be able to see you. Are you a gray car in the fog? If you looking for your car's safety record, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Assoc. at NHTSA.gov.