13 Feb 2017
Author: Stephanie Howard
In this article, we look at the steps you can take to avoid the risk of ‘sun glare’, ‘sun dazzle’ or ‘low sun’ and what you should do if you are injured in an accident where this was a factor.
When you consider what conditions might contribute to a road accident, ice, snow, rain or fog might spring to mind. However, perhaps surprisingly, the glare of the sun can be one of the biggest hazards – causing around 3,900 accidents every year.
This problem is most noticeable first thing in the morning or in the evening when the sun is low, rendering the sun visor in your car practically useless. It is also at its worst in the Winter and Spring, and when the road surface is wet and reflective. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to mitigate the effects of this hazard and help you avoid having an accident.
As your sun visor will be of little use at this time of year, having a spare pair of sunglasses in the car can help. Sunglasses with polarised lenses will be more effective at combatting glare – these filter out the horizontally-oriented light and let in only vertical light, improving visibility.
Although your sun visor might not always be helpful, it’s a good idea to use it anyway as it will block the glare some of the time.
Keep your windscreen clean
A dirty windscreen makes sun dazzle far worse, with the dirt scattering the sunlight and reducing your visibility even further. Clean your window thoroughly before setting out, checking both the outside and inside of the screen for dirt and grease. A soft cloth will remove minor dirt but if your screen needs a more significant clean, use cold water and a soft brush, followed by glass cleaner. If you’ve recently had to clear your windscreen of ice, check it for smears as this can often leave marks.
Take special care in winter to ensure your windscreen fluid is topped up with a proper screen wash and check your wiper blades from time to time for signs of wear and tear. Wipers should be replaced roughly every 12 months and cost around £9.99 a set.
You should also check your windscreen regularly for chips or cracks – these can also scatter the light, making the problem worse.
Keep your dashboard clear
Papers or other objects on the dashboard can reflect on the windshield, making it even harder to see what is in the road.
Be cautious of other road users
Whilst we’d like to think you’d be watching for other road users all year round, be conscious of the fact that at this time of year, other drivers will also be battling with the problem of sun dazzle! Even when the sun is behind you and not affecting you, those drivers approaching you may be dazzled be the glare.
Be especially careful in the morning and at night when the problem is at its worst. Keep a safe distance from the car in front and try to maintain a constant speed. Approach junctions with special care – sun glare can make it far more likely that you’ll miss an oncoming vehicle. Avoid suddenly braking in response to sun glare – the vehicle behind may not see you in time due to poor visibility. Finally, consider reducing your speed – it may not be safe to drive at the maximum allowed speed limit given the difficult lighting conditions.
Consider taking a different route
Although you might favour the scenic route, consider whether you can drive to your destination via a route where there are tall buildings or trees blocking the sun. This might take a few minutes longer but the extra time is worth it to ensure you arrive safely.
Injured? Consult a solicitor
If you find yourself injured in an accident and the driver blames sun dazzle, you could be entitled to compensation. Other drivers have a duty to take proper care to ensure they can drive safely and avoid accidents, even when the sun is causing a hazard. If you find yourself in this situation:
- Avoid speaking to the driver about who or what was to blame and simply exchange names, addresses, contact numbers and insurers’ names.
- If there were any witnesses to what happened, ask for their names, addresses and contact details as well.
- If you are physically able to, take any photographs that could be useful such as of the weather/light conditions, the road layout, the position of the cars, any tyre tracks. Add a timestamp to the photos if you can.
- As soon as you are able, try to write down as much detail about the incident as possible. If you have been physically injured, you could make an audio or video recording instead. Helpful details include the weather conditions, the speed of travel, problems with visibility, what happened, any witnesses and any details about the police attendance. You will be surprised how quickly you forget small details so completing this task as quickly as possible after the accident will be very helpful.
- If you think that you and the other driver may both have been responsible, speak to us – you may still have a claim.
Get in touch with our Personal Injury team to find out how much compensation you could be entitled to.