Drivers need to stay focused on the roads, in spite of safety innovations
We need a name for the person who gave us the inspiration for this week’s column so let’s call him Jack.
Now Jack was having trouble with reading the newspaper, books were started but often never finished and he even cancelled a subscription to his favourite sporting magazine because he said the publishers were reducing the font size and making it too hard to read.
Driving the car was okay, but it was a juggle removing his glasses to get the best vision. It was the same scenario and frustrations when working on the computer and watching television.
He was regularly up-sizing his glasses, resulting in a number of different options left lying around the house to be selected depending on the occasion. A free eye test some time earlier didn’t highlight any major problems either but the big wakeup call came recently when Jack went to get his licence renewed.
He struggled with the eye test and staying true to form, even suggesting to the tester that the machine was faulty. He was asked whether he wanted to try the test wearing the glasses sitting in his shirt pocket, but that only made matters worse.
After a concentrated effort the licence was finally renewed but Jack felt he needed to get his eyes checked out a little more thoroughly.
An in-depth check by his local optometrist suggested he needed to see an eye specialist. That resulted in him being told the cause of his blurred vision was cataracts developing in both eyes. The cataracts have since been removed.
Jack is now back to good health; his only shock came when he looked in the mirror and discovered he looked 10 years older. He can also justify the cost of buying a new high definition television.
So what’s all this got to do with motoring? Well if we can believe Jack (and I think we should), driving is now far more pleasurable with improved vision — particularly when the sun is low in the sky or when he is confronted with headlights of oncoming traffic. His long vision is much improved, everything is clearer and he no longer has to go searching for glasses when driving. Distraction while driving is one of the leading causes of accidents in New Zealand, so in theory Jack has automatically become a far better and safer driver.
The motor industry collectively continues to develop a lot more proactive safety features in their efforts to reduce accidents and injuries to all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Blind spot monitoring, lane departure warnings, pre-set travelling distances to a vehicle in front and autonomous emergency braking are just a few of the latest innovations designed to reduce accidents.
Volvo has even been as brave as to say that by 2020 no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.
But regardless of what the industry comes up with, a big responsibility still hinges around that person holding on to the steering wheel.
The New Zealand fleet overall is still dated and it will take many years for our roads to become dominated by vehicles fitted with all the latest safety innovations.
And though the age of the driverless motor vehicle is drawing closer, it will be decades before it becomes a common sight on our roads.
In the meantime drivers need to stay focused.
If you’re struggling with your sight, take Jack’s advice and get your eyes checked.