Drivers put Entertainment Before Safety

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Research from Specsavers Shows 5 million Australian Motorists Taking Risks on the Road this Summer

Specsavers Glasses

Specsavers Optometrists

Christmas road-trippers are putting everything from car snacks to musical playlists ahead of good vision as they plan their holiday adventures – despite the fact that more than one third of motorists admit to vision problems behind the wheel, a new study from Specsavers has found.

According to the Specsavers Drive Safe Study*, the blur factor could be putting millions of lives at risk at a time when the road toll traditionally hits record highs. The study revealed an alarming one in 20 motorists have had trouble seeing pedestrian crossings, one in five have struggled to read a road sign and one in 10 admit to not having seen speed bumps or cyclists.

This comes as more than half the Australian driving population is set to take a six-hour road trip this summer, while one in 14 Aussies are doing a long haul of 16 hours plus – potentially crossing two or more states to reach their destination.

Specsavers optometrist and Managing Director Peter Larsen said the findings showed Aussies were blasé about the importance of good vision & eye care for driving.

“We’ve got a third of Aussies saying they know they’re overdue for an eye test and a quarter of drivers who are legally required to wear glasses to drive admitting they have driven without them. Meanwhile, people are prioritising car snacks (55%) and good music (59%) above good vision for driving (39%),” Mr Larsen said.

“Christmas holidays are all about fun but when I hear that 12% of drivers are more concerned about planning stops to McDonalds and The Big Pineapple than having good vision to drive – as an optometrist, it makes my blood run cold. Your eyes are the most important safety feature as a driver and if you can’t see clearly, you are risking not reaching your destination alive.”

Mr Larsen said concerns about driver safety had led Specsavers to partner with Drive to Survive – an organisation dedicated to road safety – to encourage Australians to sharpen up their act behind the wheel this summer.

Drive to Survive Motoring Expert Ian Luff said the findings of the Specsavers Drive Safe Study beggared belief:

“This is just flat out scary. The number one tool you need for safe driving is your eyes and if you can’t see clearly, you may not see hazards until it’s too late,” he said.

“This makes you a deadly missile on the roads because your reaction time is going to be compromised. The difference between walking away from a road incident without a scratch or ending up wrapped around a tree can be a millisecond. Our mission at Drive to Survive is to preserve life and we are right behind Specsavers in urging drivers to make sure their eyes are right to drive this Christmas.”

Specsavers and Drive to Survive remind Australians to consider the following common mistakes when preparing for road trips:

The heavy packer – Piles of suitcases, sleeping bags and food supplies that block your rear and side windows can really inhibit your scope of vision. Pack smart and make sure you can see all your mirrors and windows for maximum field of vision.

The squinter – More than a third of drivers (36%) struggle with driving in glary conditions. Highway driving has a high glare factor so make sure you wear good quality sunnies and if you’re required to wear glasses for driving, get prescription sunglasses.

The bug squasher – Australian roads often mean lots of squashed bugs and dirt on your windscreen. Make sure you clean your windscreen regularly on the trip to ensure you have a clear outlook. Keep a spare bottle of water and cloth in the car for use throughout the trip.

The Robodriver – A long trip can tempt drivers to test the limits of their endurance in an effort to get there faster but a human is not a machine and you need a break. Eyes are muscles and long hours of focusing can lead to tiredness, headaches and difficulty concentraing. Pull over regularly to give yourself a chance to refresh.

The Stare Bear – Air conditioning, hours of concentration without blinking, and wearing contact lenses can all cause eyes to dry out. Carry lubricating eye drops to moisten tired, dry eyes.

*The research was conducted by Galaxy on behalf of Specsavers in October 2011, involving a representative sample of over 1,000 drivers aged 18-64 years. The data has been weighted and projected to reflect the population of Australia.

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