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May 17

2018

How to Stay Alert and Amused on Your Road Trip

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On the road, drivers need to be alert, and vision can play a big part in this. Your visual acuity allows you to identify objects in your field of view; your depth perception allows you to appropriately judge the distance of obstacles in front of you; and your colour vision allows you to distinguish between red, yellow, and green lights. This May Long Weekend, prepare your eyes and your mind for the long drive ahead with these tips.

 

Your visibility

When you’re driving, many environmental factors can affect your ability to see the road in front of you. Make sure to keep them in mind as you cruise down the highway.

 

Keep it tidy

Road trips usually mean a lot of blankets, luggage, snacks, and, if you have kids, toys. While it’s important to keep everyone fueled and entertained, you also need to keep everyone safe. When packing your car, try not to obstruct any windows. Keep a garbage bag in the back seat so wrappers don’t accumulate on the dash, and plan ahead so your suitcases don’t pile all the way to the top of the trunk and block your rear window. Clear sight lines are key.

 

If your children love to spread their things out, there are a few different organizational products that you can drape over the seats to help keep things out of the way and prevent distraction.

 

Keep it clean

Before you hit the road, make sure your windshield is free from any cracks or rock chips that you may have acquired during the winter. It’s possible for cracks to impede your vision, and they might grow larger and more obstructing if you leave them unattended for too long.

 

You’ll also want to ensure your wiper blades are working properly and that you’ve filled your washer fluid. Weather can be unpredictable, so prepare yourself for all conditions. Functioning wipers make sure you can see when heavy rain hits. If hail or a rainstorm does cloud your trip, and your driving visibility is compromised, consider making a safe stop until inclement conditions pass.

 

Clean your headlights for those late-night driving shifts. Visibility reduces significantly in the dark, so polish your headlights to keep them free from any dirt or cloudiness that may have accumulated throughout the day to ensure they can help guide you safely along the highway at night and provide optimal viewing conditions.

 

Keep it lit

Ensure you use the correct low or high beams for the driving conditions and speeds – this way, you are taking the proper precautions to be able to get a clear picture of the road in front of you. Always make sure you’re alert and driving at the appropriate speed to allow yourself enough stopping time and distance in case something emerges in front of your vehicle. These precautions can help you see a clearer picture of the road and the environment around your car.

 

If you’re driving on unlit rural roads, you can use your high beams to illuminate more of the space in front of you. However, if there are oncoming vehicles or ones driving in front of you, switch back to your low beams so you don’t hinder their visibility.

 

Additionally, you can reduce glare from the lights on the car behind you by flipping your rear-view mirror to its “night mode”.

 

Your vision

Maximizing your visibility through these safety precautions is just one component of a successful road trip when it comes to your eyesight. Additionally, it’s imperative that you have your proper and up-to-date corrective and UV-protective eyewear for on the road. There are a few other techniques you can also use to ensure your vision is optimized for the long drive.

 

Reduce glare

Especially at night, glare on the road is bound to happen occasionally. To avoid the impact of bright oncoming headlights, one tactic recommended by the Official Ministry of Transportation, you can look down and focus on the right edge of the road as your guide. This technique will keep your eyes as far away from the light source as possible while still keeping you safely focused on your path.

 

Apart from night driving, glare can also be caused by reflections, streetlights, or sunlight. A clean windshield will reduce the effect to an extent, but you could also consider purchasing lenses or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating to help you see beyond the bright lights in your way.

 

Rest your eyes

As a driver, it’s essential that both your eyes and your mind get proper rest before embarking on a road trip.

 

If you haven’t slept enough, a variety of symptoms could impede your vision, such as dry eyes, light sensitivity, redness and itching, and even blurred vision. Not only can driving when drowsy affect your vision, but it can also affect your ability to make proper decisions and slow your reaction time.

 

If you find yourself getting sleepy at the wheel, change drivers if there’s another licensed adult in the car with you. If not, pull over and take a nap to recharge.

 

Your passengers’ entertainment

Road trip car games or activities can keep the young ones entertained and ensure the environment in the vehicle is enjoyable and devoid of distraction, while also keeping your main navigator alert. While the driver focuses on the safe journey ahead, your passengers can enjoy some of these fun games that will engage their eyesight, too!

 

I-spy

Is it really a road trip if you don’t play I-spy at least once? This game is simple and entertaining for the whole family. When it’s your turn, all you have to do is pick an object outside the car and give a hint to your fellow players: “I spy with my little eye, something that is ______!” The hint should describe the appearance of the chosen object in some way (e.g., purple, round). Try to pick something that will be visible from the car for a while and not something that you’ll drive past in an instant.

 

Yellow car

Yellow cars on the road are few and far between. However, there are just enough to make for an entertaining game! This is a tricky one – every time you see a yellow car, you need to be the first one call it out. If you are, you get a point. But beware! If you call out a bus or a taxi, you lose a point.

 

License plates of Canada

During long weekends, it’s common to see people from all over the country exploring new areas. You may even spot a few international plates! This game challenges you to find cars with license plates from each province in Canada. Have one of the passengers keep a list of the ones you’ve seen, and see how many provinces you’ve covered by the end of your trip. Bonus points for unique or international plates and for the one from the farthest place!

 

 

For more tips on driving at night, check out this blog.

 

If you want to get an eye exam before your next road trip adventure, book an appointment at an FYidoctors clinic near you.