Driving Blind

The areas most at risk of road accidents caused by poor vision

Being out on the roads can be dangerous at the best of times, with 1.3 million fatal road accidents a year globally.

However, the danger can be amplified by poor eyesight, especially if you’re not taking the correct steps to protect yourself and others.

Billions of people around the world require glasses to see properly and that number will be even higher when we consider the people whose vision isn’t the best but have yet to be prescribed glasses or contact lenses.

But, where are the worst places in the UK for those driving with poor eyesight?

The most dangerous areas for drivers with poor eyesight

KEY: Accidents caused by poor eyesight People living with sight loss (per 10,000 people) Road accidents (per 10,000 people) Registered vehicles (per 10,000 people)
1
Isle of Anglesey, Wales

4.88%

424

7.1

7,110

The area where drivers are most likely to get into difficulty on the roads due to their eyesight was the Isle of Anglesey, in Wales. As well as having by far the highest number of accidents caused due to bad eyesight, the island also had one of the highest rates of people living with sight loss, at 424 per 10,000 people. As is the case with many of the places with higher rates of sight loss, Anglesey has a relatively older population.

2
Ceredigion, Wales

1.15%

429

15.1

7,284

Another Welsh area came in second, with Ceredigion scoring 5.98 out of ten overall. The area, which covers the historic county of Cardiganshire scored particularly poorly for the number of people living with sight loss, with 429 for every 10,000 people. Much like Anglesey, Ceredigion is popular with elderly people looking to move for their retirement and is also one of the most rural areas in the country, with no major towns or cities.

3
Dorset, South West

0.21%

486

14.8

7,494

While it had a low percentage of accidents caused by poor eyesight, Dorset was actually the area that had the highest proportion of people living with bad sight in the whole country, with 486 for every 10,000 people, so there’s still a clear risk for drivers in the area. Located in South West England, the majority of the county is rural and has a higher than average proportion of older people (and lower than average of younger people).

The least dangerous areas for drivers with poor eyesight

KEY: Accidents caused by poor eyesight People living with sight loss (per 10,000 people) Road accidents (per 10,000 people) Registered vehicles (per 10,000 people)
1
Manchester, North West

0%

182

9.9

3,358

At the other end of the spectrum, the city where people are least likely to be involved in a road accident due to their eyesight is Manchester. The North West city scored favourably in all four factors that we looked at, with no accidents attributed to poor vision, and relatively low rates of car ownership, sight loss, and accidents.

2
Aberdeen, Scotland

0%

283

3.1

4,743

Two Scottish cities were tied for second place, starting with Aberdeen, in the northeast of the country. As well as having no traffic accidents caused due to poor eyesight, Aberdeen was also the area with the lowest rate of road accidents overall, with just 3.1 per 10,000 people, suggesting drivers in the city are generally on the more responsible side.

2
Glasgow, Scotland

0%

486

8.9

3,744

Tied with Aberdeen was Glasgow, continuing the trend of larger cities being less likely to have both problems with their eyesight and car accidents. Major cities tend to have younger populations and their residents are less likely to need to own a car, due to better public transport.

The areas at risk of road accidents caused by poor vision

KEY: Accidents caused by poor eyesight People living with sight loss (per 10,000 people) Road accidents (per 10,000 people) Registered vehicles (per 10,000 people) Safety score /10
Local authority
Region

The worst area for…

Accidents caused by poor eyesight:

Isle of Anglesey

4.88%

As well as being the worst area for drivers with poor eyesight overall, the Isle of Anglesey also had the highest rate of accidents caused due to issues with vision, at 4.88%, which perhaps isn’t too surprising given that the area has a relatively old population compared to the rest of the country.

People living with sight loss:

Dorset

486 per 10,000 people

Older people are more likely to have issues with their sight and Dorset has a median age of 51.4, amongst the highest in the country, which could be a reason it has the highest number of people suffering with some form of sight loss, at 486 per 10,000 people.

Road accidents:

Westminster

38.4 per 10,000 people

Even if you’re sure to wear the correctly prescribed glasses or contact lenses, you still have to be wary of other drivers on the road, especially if you live in an area with a high rate of accidents. Westminster has the highest level of accidents, with 38.4 per 100,000 people, and is one of the busiest areas in the country, located in the heart of London.

Registered vehicles:

Slough

16.603 per 10,000 people

More vehicles on the road naturally means that you’re more likely to be involved in a collision, and the area that has the highest level of vehicle ownership is Slough, in Berkshire, with a rate of 16,603 per 10,000 people.

The difference between driving with or without glasses

If you’re used to driving without glasses, then you might not quite realise how much of a difference they can make to your vision when driving.

Below we’ve created some interactive sliders to show just how badly vision impairment can impact drivers and how dangerous it could be to drive with uncorrected vision, especially if you don’t even realise that you have some degree of sight loss.

Image showing double vision

Methodology

Accidents caused by poor eyesight

The percentage of accidents where a police officer attended the scene that listed “uncorrected, defective eyesight” as a contributing factor in 2020 according to the Department for Transport’s reported road accidents, vehicles and casualties tables for Great Britain (RAS50016). Note that accidents can have multiple contributing factors.

People living with sight loss

The number of people per 10,000 that are living with any form of sight loss in 2021 according to the RNIB’s Sight Loss Data Tool.

Road accidents

The number of reported accidents per 10,000 people in 2020 according to the Department for Transport’s reported road accidents, vehicles and casualties tables for Great Britain (RAS10014).

Registered vehicles

The number of licensed vehicles per 10,000 people at the end of 2020 according to the Department for Transport’s vehicle licensing statistics (VEH0105). Note that these include vehicles registered to companies.