• Sunglasses for Driving

    Sunglasses

    Many people who are involved in road traffic collisions often blame being dazzled by low lying sun and glare from bright light as being the cause.

    This is because the bright sun light can reflect off the road surface, off vehicles in front, off your own bonnet and when the sun is behind can reflect off your own mirrors. To help reduce the risks from the sun there are many different types of sunglasses available so choosing the correct sunglasses will reduce the glare and reduce your chances of being involved in a collision.

    When buying sunglasses, it is vital that you buy a pair that are suitable for driving as not all sunglasses are. Tinted lenses are graded by the density of the tint and all sunglasses should, by law, be labelled and show the filter category number. Filter category 4 lenses which only transmit between 3% and 8% of light are not suitable for driving at any time and should, by law, be labelled 'Not suitable for driving and road use'.

    Class 0 80%-100% (clear) Indoor and overcast No limitations

    Class 1 43%-80% (light tint) low sunlight not for night driving

    Class 2 18%-43% (medium tint) medium sunlight not for night driving

    Class 3 8%-18% (dark) bright sunlight not for night driving

    Class 4 3%-8% (very dark) exceptionally bright sunlight not for day or night driving

    All sunglasses should carry the CE mark and meet the European Standard BS EN 1836:2005.

    Sunglasses fall into two main areas. Fixed or variable tint and both can be made to prescription by your optician if you wear corrective lenses for driving.

    Fixed Tint glasses

    Despite the light conditions these remain in the same level of darkness irrespective of the light conditions. Polaroid glasses are usually fixed tint and their properties reduce glare which is beneficial on wet roads.

    If you wear corrective glasses your optician can make you up a pair of prescription sunglasses to use in the car.

    To make it easier to see the controls within the car, some drivers like to use a graduated tint with the top part of the lens being dark and the bottom part of the lens being lighter.

    Variable tint lenses

    Generally known as photochromic or reactor light. These lenses become darker when exposed to UV light but will clear when there is a reduction in UV light. As car windscreens filter out UV light, this both slows and limits the reaction of the lenses and could cause a driver problems when driving as the lenses could be too dark or too light.

    Several glasses manufacturers however, produce lenses designed for driving that will adapt to the varying light conditions. Check with your optician as these can also be made to your prescription.

    Sunglasses with thick side arms are not recommended for driving in as these can block side, or peripheral vision.

    A good quality anti-reflection coating is recommended, along with a hard coating to protect the lenses from scratches.

    Summary

    • Remember it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure they have good vision and that it is recommended a thorough eye examination should be carried out every two years. Driving with impaired vision will result in prosecution and will more than likely invalidate your car insurance if you were to be involved in a road traffic collision.

    • Discuss with your optician the various options for sun and glare protection for when driving and consider a specialist driving lens or tint

    • Always keep a spare pair of driving sunglasses in the car

    • Be aware that your everyday sunglasses might not be suitable for driving

    As there is some confusion though about what sort of sunglasses are suitable for driving, some research was carried out http://www.selectspecs.com/info/how-to-choose-safe-sunglasses-for-driving/#drivingsun

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  • Driving in low sun

    Although the problems of glare from the sun are present throughout the year, the biggest dangers are generally during the winter months as this is when the sun is at its lowest. The most dangerous times from glare is first thing in the morning and in the evening (generally around the times of the morning or evening commutes and school runs). One of the biggest risks with low sun is that the glare can make it more difficult to see, however, there are some precautions that you can take to reduce these risks.

    Ensure the windscreen, all other windows and mirrors are clean

    Keep the glass areas clean inside and out. The inside of the windscreen screen will over a period of time get a build up of grease and might not be as noticeable during the summer months as the sun is much higher. To clean the windscreen and other glass areas, use a glass cleaner and apply it with either a soft clean cloth or use paper kitchen towels. Before driving off it could be a good idea if possible to also clean the outside of the windows and at the same time clean the mirrors to remove all the dirt and other road grime.

    To keep the windscreen clear, it is vital to make sure that the screenwash tank is full with a strong mixture of a good quality screenwash additive to prevent the screenwash from freezing. Also, check the condition of the wiper rubbers because if they are damaged or worn this will prevent them from cleaning the screen effectively and you will end up with streaks on the windscreen.

    Wear sunglasses

    A lot of drivers wear sunglasses in the summer then during the winter they don’t wear them so will drive around squinting and closing their eyes because they are getting dazzled by the brightness of the low winter sun!

    Keep a good pair of quality polarised sunglasses in the vehicle. Polarised lenses are recommended for driving as they are more efficient at reducing glare than non-polarised. If you don’t already own a good pair of sunglasses being winter, you might be able to pick up a bargain!

    If you wear prescription glasses speak to your optician as it is possible to get prescription polarised sunglasses and often opticians will do these as part of a special deal.

    Use the sun visor

    Sun visors are also great for reducing the glare from the sun and on most cars, the visor can swivel to the right to reduce the glare coming in from the side.

    Reduce speed

    Remember that the speed limit is the maximum legal speed and not a target so drive at a slower speed and make sure that you can stop safely within your zone of vision. If you are temporarily blinded from the sun avoid sudden braking because the driver behind you might not be able to react in time.

    Keep space

    keep a big gap between your vehicle and the one in front in case they brake heavily. Avoid braking heavily.

    Observation and awareness

    when the sun is low pay even more attention to cyclists and pedestrians because they’ll be even harder to see, and be aware that other road users may not see you as they may be suffering from sun glare as well.

    Approach junctions with care and before emerging take a bit longer to look to ensure each direction is clear of vehicles.

    If the sun is behind you then be aware that it will be in the eyes of the drivers heading towards you, so they might not be able to see you.

    Use dipped beam headlights

    Driving on dipped beam headlights is also a great way to ensure that you are visible to other road users.

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  • Preparing for Winter Driving

    Winter is nearly here. To help you stay safe here are a few things you could consider.

    Windscreen and windows

    It is vital to ensure that you see properly. Therefore, you need to make sure your windscreen, windows and mirrors are all free from grit and dust.

    To keep the windscreen clear it is vital to make sure that the screenwash tank is full with a strong mixture of a good quality screenwash additive to prevent the screenwash from freezing. Also, check the condition of the wiper rubbers because if they are damaged or worn this will prevent them from cleaning the screen effectively and you will end up with streaks on the windscreen.

    Tyres

    Apart from the usual tyre checks to the pressures, make sure that your tyres have sufficient tread. The legal minimum tread depth limit for tyres is 1.6 mm, but it is recommended by road safety organisations to have a minimum of 3mm tread depth to help disperse water that is on the road.

    When doing your tyre safety checks also look at the sidewalls and if you have a spare tyre make sure that this is safe and legal to use.

    Journey planning

    Before you set off, plan your journey carefully and if your route is going to take you into areas that are going to be exposed to the elements, or could be prone to flooding, it could be useful to keep up-to-date with local weather and traffic reports.

    The most important thing to take on any journey is a charged mobile phone. Always make sure that you have the number of your car breakdown recovery provider and your membership number to hand so you can always call for help in the event of needing assistance.

    Let other people know your planned route and keep them informed of your whereabouts and the time that anticipate being at your destination. Inform them if you get delayed.

    Some other safety supplies to take with you:

    • A hi-vis vest to make you visible if you break down.

    • A blanket to keep you warm.

    • Some food (for example nutrition bars or bananas) and a flask of hot tea or coffee.

    • A torch.

    • A first aid kit.

    • A warning triangle.

    • Some jump leads.

    • Decent sturdy outdoor footwear and other warm clothing.

    • If it’s going to be snowy, you could consider taking a spade or shovel.

    Snow

    It can be extremely dangerous if snow blows off your roof when you’re driving along, so make sure your bonnet, roof and boot lid are clear from snow before setting off. This is not just for your own safety and the safety of other road users but also you could face prosecution if you get caught by the Police.

    Keep your car clean

    The salt used to de-ice roads can cause corrosion so cleaning your car on a regular basis throughout the winter months will help prevent corrosion setting in.

    Please contact me if you have any concerns or questions regarding driving.

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  • Thousands caught driving distracted twice over four years

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37855713

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  • How to Deal With Emergency Vehicles

    When you hear a siren or see the blue flashing lights of an emergency vehicle, some drivers panic. Here is a useful video from Blue Light Aware to show you how to deal with the situation safely.

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