Colorado optometrists are seeing a problem rising on the roads that impact more than just eye health. Fatal car accidents across Colorado have increased over the course of the pandemic even though less miles were driven. In the first half of 2021, total Colorado traffic fatalities were up 15% with drivers under the age of 34 experiencing the largest increase in traffic fatalities.1 With driving being 90 percent visual, unaddressed vision challenges increase the risk of car accidents at any age and being involved in a car accident can put your eyes at risk of injury.
We know that car accidents cause an estimated 9,280 to 11,600 eye injuries annually.2 Colorado optometrists are speaking out about the statewide safety issue while urging drivers to modify risky behavior for increased safety on the roads.
“Reducing car accidents and fatalities across Colorado is a combination of safer decision making and proper eye health. Risky driving puts your eye health, vision, and life at risk. We are asking two things of Coloradans to help make roads safer; get an annual eye exam and make safer decisions on the road,” says Dr. Jean DeMoss, Board President at the Colorado Optometric Association.
Common eye symptoms and injuries from a car accident include; black eye, blurred vision, curtain-like shadow falling over visual field, detached retina, eyelid cuts, hyphema, increased floaters, scratched cornea, reduced peripheral vision, and more. Eye injuries from car accidents can be painful and can threaten vision. In addition, whiplash and concussions can cause visual system issues that impact one’s quality of life and livelihood. Take precautions today to reduce your risk of a car accident.
Six Ways to Increase Safe Driving
1. Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam – Make sure your eyesight and eye health are up to the task by getting an eye exam with your local optometrist. New legislation in Colorado requires that ages 21-79 attest to having an eye exam in the last year before renewing a driver’s license. Coloradans who are 80 years or older must have an eye doctor provide a signed DR 2402 confirming that the individual has had an eye exam in the last six months and the results of that exam.
2. Reduce Distractions – With over 90 percent of Colorado drivers disclosing that they drive distracted, CDOT reports that on average 42 car accidents occur each day in the state due to distracted driving.3 Anything that takes your focus away from the road is a distraction including texting, eating, reading, navigating a smart phone or gps system, talking to passengers, caring after passengers/pets, and watching videos. Put your phone down and keep your eyes on the road!
3. Use a Seatbelt for Every Trip – Seatbelt use reduces the risk of eye injuries in a car accident.4 The CDC reports that seatbelt use reduces serious injury and fatalities in a car accident by 50%, but still 1 in 7 adults do not buckle up.5 Make sure that everyone in the vehicle is using a seatbelt or a car seat/booster seat for younger passengers. Motorcyclists should wear a helmet to reduce the risk of brain injury and death in the case of an accident.
4. Reduce Speeding – Of fatal accidents in Colorado, 35 percent in 2017 were speeding related.6 Speeding puts you and other drivers at risk. The rise in fatal accidents can partially be linked to simply driving too fast. Remember to stay within the posted speed limits. It’s better to be late than in an accident.
5. Sober Driving – Driving under the influence increases your risk of a car accident or arrest. Roughly, 33% of U.S. car accident fatalities involve drunk drivers.6 Don’t forget that cannabis and some prescription medications count as impaired driving.
6. Adhere to Traffic Signals – The AAA Foundation reports that 28% of car accident fatalities that occur at a traffic signal are due to running a red light.7 It’s simple to reduce your risk. Just stop.