Health: Driving in the dark

25 Dec 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Tips and tricks for navigating at night



Although a lack of confidence while driving at night is most commonly associated with older drivers, new survey results reveal that drivers as young as 40 feel uncomfortable driving in dark, nighttime conditions. Darkness falls earlier at this time of year, and this means more low-light driving time for drivers of all ages. And with many motorists in Oman bizarrely driving with their lights on high beam, it is especially important to understand the factors that contribute to this discomfort, including one surprising culprit – your nutritional intake.

Night driving is characterised by low-light conditions and glare from oncoming headlights that impact a driver’s vision and can have serious safety implications. The US-based AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that vision provides as much as 85 percent of the information drivers need to make safe decisions behind the wheel.

Results from a survey conducted by Toluna and EyePromise reinforce the importance of quality vision: with nearly one in four respondents reporting that if they could see better they would feel safer driving at night. Concerns about safe driving at night and in low-light conditions are valid. According to the National Safety Council, a US-based organisation, traffic death rates are three times greater driving at night versus day. However, for many people, driving at night is not a choice. In the survey, one in five respondents said that, despite feeling anxious, they continued to drive at night out of necessity.

The first step towards night driving safety is being aware of the issues that may disrupt a driver’s confidence behind the wheel. The vision issues related to night driving can be organised into three categories: low-light conditions, which affect contrast and the ability to gauge distance; glare, which may cause a period of blind driving; and reaction time, which is reduced when visibility is hampered.

You can also enhance your safety behind the wheel by adopting smart driving behaviours. For example, you could consider driving more slowly at night and watch the white lines more carefully. The National Safety Council also recommends drivers clean their headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows (inside and out) at least once a week. Research reveals there is an additional solution proven to directly address the major night driving vision concerns: protecting your vision quality at its source.
Scientific studies show that nutrition has a significant impact on visual performance, specifically the nutrients zeaxanthin and lutein. Zeaxanthin and lutein are carotenoids that make up the macular pigment – the area of the eye responsible for protecting vision.

Trace amounts can be found in foods like leafy greens, corn, eggs and red, orange and yellow peppers, but because it is difficult to get enough in the average diet, optometrists recommend a nutritional supplement. “It has been scientifically proven that high levels of dietary zeaxanthin taken in supplement form improve night driving visual performance,” says Dr Dennis Gierhart, who is the foremost researcher on dietary zeaxanthin and founder of ZeaVision, one of the leading companies in ocular nutrition.
Learn more about the impact vision has on night driving safety at www.eyepromise.com/nightdrivingvision.

Common night driving pitfalls
Low light: Low-light conditions make it harder for the eyes to see contrast and thus identify objects and gauge their distance. It is much more difficult for a person to make out an object or person in the street or to accurately measure how fast they are moving or how far away they are at night versus during the day.

Glare disability and recovery: Glare and blinding light from an oncoming car’s headlights not only disables vision in the moment, but there is a period of time before the eyes recover where people are left driving blind. In fact, glare is one of the most common night driving vision issues, with one out of four respondents reporting that they feel unsafe driving at night due to glare, according to a survey by Toluna and EyePromise.

Reaction time: Reaction time is slower at night. The National Safety Council reports that 90 percent of a driver’s reaction depends on vision, which is limited at night, so a person’s ability to spot danger and react is compromised. When considering the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s assertion that a typical driver makes 20 decisions per 1.2km and has less than half a second to act to avoid a collision, it’s clear that hampered night vision poses serious danger.

Take steps to improve your safety
There are numerous ways you can proactively improve your
safety while driving at night. The experts at EyePromise offer
these suggestions:

Practice safe driving
●     Make sure the windshield and headlights are clean.
●     Leave more distance between cars.
●     Use “night” setting on your interior rearview mirror.

Improve your eyes with nutrition
Research has proven nutritional supplements high in dietary zeaxanthin (10mg or above) and lutein protect and promote eye health to directly address major night driving vision issues. These nutrients help by improving contrast, reducing glare and improving recovery time.

Trace amounts of these nutrients are found in foods like leafy greens, eggs, corn, and orange and yellow peppers. The best option, though, is a natural supplement like EyePromise vizual EDGE, which features high levels of dietary zeaxanthin (14mg) and lutein in a once-daily softgel.

Schedule regular eye exams to monitor for vision issues.
A professional will be able to identify any issues with the aid of routine examinations.


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