Older drivers in Ayrshire have been urged to have a free regular NHS eye examination to ensure they are still safe behind the wheel.

The Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland have launched a new campaign encouraging older motorists to consider their driving habits. 

With recent statistics showing that 29% of car driver casualties killed or seriously injured in road collisions are aged over 60, the Fitness to Drive campaign is highlighting that eyesight can affect the way we drive as we get older.

Everyone over 60 is being encouraged to have their eyes examined regularly or as soon as they notice a change. 

The campaign has highlighted that it is common for drivers to adapt their driving behaviour as they get older, for example, by not driving at night or on busier roads to avoid the glare from oncoming traffic or by driving shorter distances.

These adaptations often happen gradually and can be a sign of deteriorating vision.

Chief optometric adviser Janet Pooley said: "As we get older, we can experience changes to our eyesight, including blurred vision, a reduced visual field and less accuracy when it comes to judging distances, which impact our ability to drive safely.

"The best way to make sure your eyes are healthy is to have them examined regularly and to visit your local optometrist if you notice any problems with your eyesight.

"As well as detecting changes in your eyesight, an NHS eye examination can pick up age-related eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, and it can identify and help prevent other health conditions like blood issues and diabetes, which can also affect driving."

The campaign reminds drivers that changes in your eyesight don't have to mean giving up driving and that your local optometrist can often correct your vision with new glasses.

In addition to eyesight, other age-related factors can also affect our fitness to drive, such as high blood pressure, medication, and slower reaction times.

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: "Changes in our eyesight is something we're all affected by as we get older, and with Scotland's population continuing to age, it's particularly important to ensure we all stay safe on the road. We're encouraging everyone in this age group to get their eyes checked regularly to make sure they are fit to drive."

Age Scotland's Big Survey 2023 shows driving is the most common way to get around among over 60s, with 72% of respondents saying this is the mode of transportation they use most.

Katherine Crawford, CEO of Age Scotland, added: "This campaign is a good reminder for older drivers to get their eyes examined regularly or, if they notice a change in their eyesight, to make sure they have the best vision for driving safely.”

For more information about the campaign or how to book a free NHS eye examination, go to roadsafety.scot