September 24, 2009
The Globe and Mail
Richard Russell

Driving is a visual exercise. Our actions at the wheel are almost exclusively dependent on what we see.

The eyes take a picture and send it to the brain where it is processed, resulting in the appropriate signals being sent to the hands and feet which turn the wheel or press a pedal.

The link between the eyes and our hands and feet is the key and anything we can do to improve the time between seeing something and taking the appropriate action will most certainly reduce the risk of an incident.

It is a proven fact that a regular exercise routine will help keep muscles in shape. Since the eye is controlled by six muscles, it makes sense that keeping them finely tuned is a good idea. That is accomplished routinely as we use our eyes.

But the complex interaction between the eye and brain suffers with age – like the rest of our body. We know that reaction times slow and we also know that our field of vision narrows with age. Think of the latter as a cone with our eyes at the small end and what we see at the other. That opposite end narrows with the passing years and as a result we don’t see as much to the extremes – whether that’s to the side or up and down.

A company called Posit Science, a leading provider of brain fitness programs, has developed one specifically for drivers. This ground-breaking safety program allows you to use your computer to exercise your eyes and the attendant links to the brain to actually improve your reaction time and ability to process visual information.

Called Insight DriveSharp, the program is being promoted by the 57-million-member American Automobile Association (AAA), which says it “has shown in independent studies to improve reaction time, reduce crash risk and increase control in driving situations.”

DriveSharp allows drivers of all ages to not only maintain but improve their ability to drive safely through an interactive series of exercises. In short, it helps you to think faster.

It provides more than 10 hours of play time allowing you to improve not only your reactions, but also visual processing speed, useful field of view and thus driving ability.

Posit Science says the technology has been extensively validated in studies funded by the National Institutes of Health in the United States and the benefits documented by a number of peer review articles in leading science and medical journals. The company says it has been shown to reduce crash risk by as much as 50 per cent and improve stopping distances by several metres at 90 km/h.

As someone who has spent the majority of his life studying and working with driver safety issues, I can add my recommendation as well. The beauty is that you can install it on any computer – PC or laptop – and in just a few minutes a day once or twice a week see results.

I loaded DriveSharp on my laptop and used it in the office to establish a baseline and subsequently both there and in an airplane. In each instance I experienced a measurable improvement in both reaction and field of vision.

DriveSharp retails for $139 (U.S.) or can be ordered on line directly at for $129, plus applicable duty and taxes.