Central and Peripheral Vision While Driving: A Closer Look
Having good vision is absolutely necessary in order to drive a car. I know what you’re thinking — le duh — but that’s why you’re required to pass vision screenings at the DMV when you go get a learner permit or driver license or even a CDL (commercial driver’s license). If you can’t see road signs, signals and other cars, then you shouldn’t be driving. Let’s take a look-see at some of the important ways that your vision can assist you while driving.
Central vision is what you see out your front windshield when looking straight ahead. It’s where you’ll see lovely sights like highway litter, gas station signs and billboards like this one:
Your central vision field is where the majority of visual information you receive while driving comes from. For example, central vision lets you know when cars in front of you have braked, when there’s a stoplight, when the speed limit decreases or when you should exit the interstate. All very important things.
Peripheral vision is a little less obvious, but it’s super important for driving. Basically, peripheral vision is what you see out of the corner of your eye when looking straight ahead. Peripheral vision lets you see when other cars are passing you, while still allowing you to focus on what’s in front of you. Do you see what I mean? (Note: Peripheral vision is not a substitute for checking your blind spot!)
Peripheral vision complements central vision to help you make informed driving decisions — like when it’s safe to move over a lane, when there’s a pedestrian trying to cross or when you need to go to the car wash because a bird just pooped on your window (ugh, the worst). Peripheral visions lets you see potential hazards before they enter your central vision. Together, the two types of vision help make you a smarter driver. Pretty cool, right?
And that’s what central and peripheral vision looks like!
Older drivers aren’t the only ones who need to practice good vision care. As a new driver about to go through driving school, you’re going to be required to take an eye exam and pass some vision requirements before you get your learner permit or driver license. If you don’t have perfect eyes with 20/20 vision, you’ll need to wear some eyeglasses or corrective lenses. Having visual acuity is so important when you’re behind the wheel. If you can’t see what’s going on around you, you’ll end up in some gnarly crashes. If you ever experience vision loss, low vision quality, or a vision condition that impairs your ability to driver safety, pull over immediately and call a ride. In most states, if you wear glasses or corrective lenses the driver licensing department will place a note on the back of your license ID noting this.
Make sure to check out the rest of our safe driving videos for more tips to keep you in control on the road!