Identifying uncorrected poor vision as a key road safety challenge, Essilor, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, and the Automobile Association (AA) have joined forces to launch a series of initiatives to improve road safety by improving road users’ vision.
During the FIA World Conference, held from 29 April to 3 May 2019 at Sun City, The Automobile Association of South Africa, a member of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and Essilor, agreed to a partner in South Africa on a series of awareness-raising campaigns under the banner "Road Safety starts with good vision".
The purpose of this is to make drivers aware that good vision - closely linked to reaction time - is essential for taking the right decisions on the road, making it necessary to check their eyesight regularly with eye care professionals and to protect against glare day and night (sun, lights and public lighting).
“Uncorrected poor vision poses a major risk for the safety of people on the road, and we are delighted to be involved with the AA in promoting better vision for road users and, ultimately, playing a role in making our roads safer,” says Nico Coetzee, Country Manager of Essilor South Africa.
“This is a fantastic project for us to be involved in. Statistics show that 95 percent of all road crashes resulting in fatalities are caused through human error. Vision is one of those factors and we need to deal with it effectively and urgently. Essilor’s aim of improving road safety through improving the vision of road users should be acknowledged as a bold move to increasing road safety in general,” says Mr Sikkie Kajee, chairperson of the AA.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) up to 3500 people die in road crashes worldwide every day. Africa, the least motorised continent, has the highest level of traffic-related deaths in the world with 26.6 deaths per 100 000 of the population compared to 17.4 deaths per 100 000 elsewhere. The African region is also particularly affected by poor vision. An estimated 497 million people, or 38% of the population, suffer from uncorrected visual defects.
In South Africa, around 135 000 deaths have been recorded on the country’s roads in the last decade and the AA has warned that unless drastic action is taken, this number could remain the same, or even increase, in the next decade.
Faced with this situation, the golden rule announced by the FIA in May 2017, "Check your vision", is a simple but crucial message, relayed by both the FIA and by the associated local clubs around the world – such as the AA - with Essilor as partner.
“Drivers should have regular check-ups with a suitably qualified and registered eye care professional, which will ensure that any eye conditions are detected and treated early with the necessary prescriptions and corrections. This simple preventative measure could save many lives on our roads and thousands of Rand in the long run for companies and the insurance sector,” concludes Mr Coetzee.