NASCAR DRIVERS by sammyc2007


									NASCAR DRIVERS 1. General Description
NASCAR drivers are responsible for driving racecars in speeds of excess of 170 MPH. The goal of the drivers is to qualify, win races, and earn points each week and to ultimately win the season long Winston Cup Series. Drivers are required to have excellent driving skills, quick reflexes, and to be able to make many left turns. There were about 90 drivers that earned points and money during the 2002 Winston Cup Series.1 Two of the drivers were females. The average age of the drivers was 36.8 years old. The age range was from 21-46 years old.2 NASCAR “recommends” an eye exam before each season, but it is not mandatory. A routine physical exam is required before each season.3

2. Visual Needs Assessment

Field of view requirements: Racecar driving requires a good field of view to see other cars, the track, etc., in the driver’s periphery, but the main focus for the driver is their central vision to see where they are driving. The driver’s helmet and or their glasses restrict the field of view. The driver’s right side field of view is also obstructed by a head restraint system that is designed to protect the driver during crashes. Therefore the drivers must rely upon information supplied by spotters located above the track at four locations to know what is happening to the right of their racecar.

Viewing distance requirements: The visual demands for a NASCAR driver are very high. The driver needs to have good distance acuities to be able to see accidents that occur ahead on the track, to prepare strategies to get to the front of the field, and to see the race flags. The driver also needs to have good intermediate acuities to see the gauges on the instrument panel of the car.

3. Eye Protection Needs

Impact protection: The NASCAR rulebook does not require any protection for the driver’s eyes, but it does have some recommendations. It is recommended that the drivers wear a shield covering the eyes with at least a thickness of 0.12 inches.

Eye injuries do not appear to frequently occur during NASCAR races, or perhaps drivers fail to report them. We found three cases that resulted in a vision problem. Steve Park bruised his brain in a wreck during a 2001 race, which resulted in double vision for months afterwards.4 Danny Lasoski was also in a severe wreck that resulted in blurred vision for an extended time.5 During the middle a 2001 race, debris became lodged in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s eye causing him to fall many positions in the race. After the race, his eye was irrigated and the debris was removed.6

4. Special Protective Eyewear

NASCAR does require the drivers to wear a Snell SA200 or SA95 certified helmet. There are three different varieties of helmets that a driver can wear. There is a full-face helmet with a shield, a full-face helmet without a shield, and an open face helmet. Each type of helmet has its own advantages and disadvantages.7

A full-face helmet with a shield offers the most protection, but is the least comfortable because of the reduced air circulation inside of the helmet. This type also has the least amount of visibility. The full-face helmet without a shield is more comfortable and has better visibility, but it gives the driver less protection (especially at the area of the eyes). The open face helmet is the most comfortable and has the best visibility, but offers the least protection. There are very few drivers that still wear the open face helmets.

There is some variability among the manufacturers in helmet design and features that are available. Helmets are available with different amounts of venting, which will make the helmet more breathable and comfortable. More vents will also make the driver more prone to fire entering the helmet and cause injuries to the face. Helmets are also made with small or large eye ports, which will affect the driver’s field of view. Manufacturers also offer many options for the eye shields including anti-scratch coating, anti-fog coating, tinting, shield strips (reduces sun glare), and increased shield thickness. Some of the helmet manufacturers include APEX, BELL Racing Co., OMP, and Simpson Helmets.8

5. Prescription Eyewear and Plano OTC Product

Frame style: Even though central vision is most heavily relied upon during racing, being able to see in the periphery is also important. The driver’s helmet rather than their glasses should limit field of view. The driver could use a larger frame and/or wrap around frame design to increase the field of view. Glasses with Contour Optics by SOLA (big base curve) are also available to give a better field of view. A wrap around frame design would protect the side of the eye and help block debris, fire, and hot liquids from getting to the eye. Lenses: The following suggestions could be applied to prescription lenses (for all helmet types), plano lenses (for full-faced helmets without shields or open face helmets), and shields. Polycarbonate lens material is to be used because of its high impact resistance. Lenses with an increased thickness are desirable to increase protection during high impact accidents and from flying debris.

Coatings: Many of the races are held in hot, sunny, and humid environments during the daytime. Tinted lenses would be beneficial during sunny race days. A polarized lens could help the driver by reducing glare from other cars, the stands, etc. Anti-fog coating prevents the inside of the lens or shield from fogging up due to the warmth and humidity inside of the helmet. After the race and during interviews, many drivers will put on their sponsor’s sunglasses to advertise for the company. Money is more of an issue here rather than sun protection. Presbyopia: Since 18 of the drivers on the circuit are over 40 years old, presbyopia could become an issue for some drivers. The gauges are about 70 cm away from the driver so an intermediate lens may be needed for a driver with advanced presbyopia. A wide segment would be needed to limit the image jump of the segment and so that the driver can glance down and see the gauges quickly. *The best option is wearing a full-face helmet with a shield. This provides the best safety features and many options are available for the shields to satisfy the driver’s visual needs. Authors: Billy McAninch Wayne Young 2003 Sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

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