As Brits, we like to try and make the most of the sunshine when it finally decides to make a show. For drivers on the road, that means rolling down the windows, taking the roof off and grabbing a pair of shades. What we may not realise, is how much this 'essential summer attire' could affect our vision on the road and whether this is enough to break the law.
We've seen the government take more and more actions to try improve the safety conditions of our UK roads, such as tougher laws on using mobile phones behind the wheel. It's now time to look at the next culprit on the list...sunglasses.
"Surely it's a good idea to avoid glare from the sun tho?" we hear you say. Indeed, the Highway Code states that you must slow down or pull over if you’re dazzled by bright sunlight. Not following this advice when driving directly into bright sunlight could result in you being charged with careless driving. If a collision occurs, you could be fined up to £2,500, or at least a fixed penalty fine of £100 if you're blinded by the light and commit a driving offence. So yes, a pair of sunglasses on hand is a good idea. However, not all pairs of glasses are the same...
Sunglasses are split into four types of light and UV penetration, meaning only certain categories are suitable for driving in under law regulations.
Lenses for driving fall into two main categories: ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ tint. Most sunglasses will be category two – meaning they filter between 18 and 43 per cent of light and are therfeore suitable for driving.
Category 4 is the darkest lense, allowing less than eight per cent of light to pass through - perfect for the beach and laying back on a sun lounger, but not so much when driving on busy roads. According to the AA, "Sunglasses with these lenses should, by law, be labelled ‘Not suitable for driving and road use’.”
We recommend to all drivers to check your lenses! The law states that every pair of sunglasses sold in the UK comes with a removeable label or sticker advising of their filter category. Filter Categories 1-3 are legal for driving, though Filter category 3 could impact your vision in lower light situations, meaning Category 1 or Category 2 are the safest choices for drivers.