This is the time of year (here in the UK) when the sun is low in the sky, just when drivers are commuting to and from work. You can turn the corner and easily be temporarily dazzled by low sun. The UK Department of Transport statistics for 2012 showed that sun glare contributed to 36 fatal car accidents and a further 423 serious injuries. With the low angle of the sun in the sky or reflected off the road surface, even using a driver’s car visor is often useless. The best remedy is to have a pair of polarised sunglasses ready to hand in the car. It’s worth noting that you can be convicted of careless driving if you are not wearing sunglasses and are then dazzled by bright sunlight and you don’t slow down or pull over. This is covered by rule 237 of the Highway Code.
You might however have seen some of the scare stories in the media recently about getting fined for wearing sunglasses when driving. These ‘sensational’ stories designed to catch the eye usually fail to properly clarify that the only sunglasses you should not wear when driving are those with category 4 lenses. These let in less than 10% of light and are too dark to safely drive. If found wearing these very dark tinted sunglasses you could find yourself facing an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three penalty points on your licence. Or if you have an accident wearing them you could end up in court and a fine of up to £2,500 plus nine points on your driving licence. And your insurance company will almost certainly not pay up. All Category 4 sunglasses should be clearly marked as such – often they come with a ‘no driving’ sticker and or ‘no driving’ symbol marked on the inside of one temple.