The latest Road Collision report from the Department for Transport has revealed that out of a total of 5,877 road collisions recorded this year, 2,033 (35%) of those collisions were caused by drivers being dazzled by the sun, the highest contributing factor to collisions in the ‘vision being affected by external factors’ category.
The shocking number highlights just how dangerous the sun can be, especially at this time of year. As Autumn rolls around, the sun is beginning to move and set for around 18:15pm, many drivers have found that the sun is in their direct eyeline, making it increasingly harder to see what is on the road in front of them. With the combination of rush hour traffic too, this is a mix to be careful in. In order to avoid accidents drivers should take it slow in order if anything did occur, there is both time and space to do so.
According to the Highway Code, rule 237, it states that if a driver is ‘dazzled by bright sunlight’ they should ‘slow down and if necessary, stop’. Today, motorists can face fines up to £5,000 if they fail to adhere to these rules.
The data has led Dan Jones, Operations Manager at the UK's largest driving experience provider, TrackDays.co.uk, to warn motorists about the need to take extra precautions this autumn or be prepared to pay the price if they fail to slow down when the sun impairs their vision.
He warned: "While most of the UK is enjoying this belated sunny weather following a drab summer, autumn is actually the time of the year when the sun's glare can be at its worst."
"During the autumn, the sun sits lower in the sky meaning extra precautions are required by drivers. The Highway Code is clear that you could face a hefty fine if you do not react appropriately when driving in certain weather conditions."
The situation is made worse if it has been raining or the ground is covered in snow or ice, as the glare reflects off of the wet or frosted floor to further dazzle the driver's eyes. The best way to avoid accidents in these conditions from happening, is to ensure you reduce your speed. If your windscreen is dirty or greasy looking, this can make the glare worse, so ensure you to up your wiper fluid and clean both the inside and outside of your windscreen.
You are probably wondering, ‘Why can’t I just wear sunglasses?’ the answer to this, is you can, but they must fit the requirements suggested by the AA- As sunglasses too, can be a contributing factor to road collisions. According to research carried out by the AA in collaboration with The Federation of Manufacturing Opticians, they have ruled that there are two essential requirements in lenses used for driving.
1. Vision must remain clear
2. Sufficient light to let you see properly must get to your eyes.
Sunglasses sold for general use can be too dark for driving in. The fashion frames that surround the lenses can often be bulky too, obscuring your peripheral vision.
Lenses that only react to UV light are not suitable for driving because car windscreens filter out UV, slowing and limiting the reaction of the lenses. You could find yourself driving with lenses too light as a result.
You need to look for lenses designed to react to visible light as well as UV to ensure they'll adapt to the varying light conditions when driving. Check with your optician to find the right ones.
Visit our Driving Lessons page today on the TrackDays to browse and book from our range of packages including our Safer Driving Course, which better equips you to deal with driving in almost all weather conditions and situations arising from this. Book from available dates on our Driving Experiences Calendar or purchase of our open Gift Vouchers.