Shell India And VisionSpring Launch #DriveSafeIndia Initiative

Expand the vision correction program to serve 3.65 lakh commercial drivers and transportation workers by 2020

Shell India and VisionSpring committed to helping 3.65 lakh commercial drivers and allied transportation workers to see clearly and drive safer by the end of the very symbolic year 2020. 20/20 being the measure of perfect vision, the #DriveSafeIndia initiative will accelerate access to vision correction and advance national goals to improve road safety. Drivers, mechanics and other allied transport workers across four states - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka - will receive free vision screening, low-cost eyeglasses, and referrals for other eye conditions.

The decision to expand #DriveSafeIndia to serve significantly more people follows a program assessment conducted by VisionSpring which evidenced a deep need for eyeglasses among heavy and light commercial vehicle drivers who are driving with uncorrected blurry vision. 

VisionSpring found that 25% of drivers participating in the pilot phase of the program failed to meet the standard required for a driver’s license. Meaning, without eyeglasses, these drivers were unable to see road signs at 20-30 meters and meet the Indian Motor Vehicles Act eligibility requirement of 6/18 vision or better for both eyes. 

Further, during follow-up interviews with 385 drivers, 68% reported that they never had a vision test which is required for a driving license or license renewal. After getting glasses for the first time in their lives, 76% of the drivers articulated that driving safely and optimal job performance would be the most important results of their new clear vision.

Speaking about the initiative, Mr. Nitin Prasad, Country Chairman of Shell Companies in India, said, “ We, at Shell India, are committed to creating an ecosystem that encourages safe behavior on India’s roads. The #DriveSafeIndia program is a part of our effort to create safer roads across the country, and these eye camps are an important step in the right direction. We look forward to other companies, individuals, and organizations joining us on this journey to make India’s roads safer.”

“The current situation is very dangerous. But this problem is solvable,” shared Ella Gudwin, President of VisionSpring, the pioneering social enterprise that is making eyeglasses accessible across 43 countries. “Eyeglasses were invented 700 years ago, and today they offer a powerful, cost-effective solution for one of our most pressing health and safety problems – deadly traffic accidents. Eyeglasses are a road safety intervention, literally sitting right in front of our eyes. Imagine how many lives could be saved with a simple pair of glasses. But not enough people are wearing them. Together with Shell, we are changing that. We invite allies everywhere to bring vision correction to transit hubs and India’s drivers.”

Experts validate what most people know instinctively to be true: Eyesight is the dominant sense that drivers rely upon to navigate roads, enabling them to see and avoid hazards. Indeed, 60% of traffic accidents are attributable to impaired vision. 

Drivers surveyed by VisionSpring identified blurred vision (43%) and night glare (29%) as their top two vision problems. More than half of those surveyed (57%) were driving heavy commercial vehicles and the rest light commercial vehicles.

Results from the #DriveSafeIndia assessment make a strong case for bridging the gap between driver’s license policies and the reality of drivers wearing glasses. Further, it underscores the need for proactive interventions that effectively increase eyeglasses utilization among drivers in need of vision correction.