Driving in Low Sun: Ultimate Guide

Driving in Low Sun

As we venture further into the year, we find ourselves squinting against the blinding glare of the sun, which, despite its warmth and brilliance, can turn driving into a precarious endeavour.

In 2020, the Department for Transport revealed startling statistics: approximately 3,900 people are injured annually in incidents directly attributed to low, dazzling sun.

This phenomenon is not just an inconvenience but a serious hazard, contributing to numerous accidents and near misses on roads across the country.

But why does low sun pose such a risk, and more importantly, what can we do about it? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the nature of this issue, its implications for road safety, and provide practical advice to mitigate its impact.

From maintaining a clean windscreen to adjusting your driving strategy, our aim is to arm you with knowledge and tips to enhance your safety and comfort behind the wheel.

Understanding the Hazards of Low Sun

The Ray of Blight

The problem with low sun begins with its timing. During winter months, the sun rises and sets in alignment with the morning and evening commutes, positioning itself at a low angle in the sky.

This not only directs rays below the sun visor but also into the eyes of drivers, creating a blinding glare that can obscure vision and make judging distances a challenge.

When compounded by wet roads, the situation worsens. The sun’s rays reflect off the damp surface, intensifying the glare and significantly reducing visibility.

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This combination of factors makes it difficult to spot hazards, interpret traffic signals, and react appropriately to the actions of other road users.

Understanding the inherent risks associated with low sun is the first step towards mitigating its dangers. By recognising the conditions under which this phenomenon occurs, drivers can better prepare themselves for the challenges it presents.

Strategies to Mitigate Low Sun Hazards

Awareness is crucial, but knowledge alone isn’t enough to combat the dangers of low sun. Fortunately, there are several proactive steps drivers can take to reduce the risks and ensure a safer journey. Here, we present actionable advice to help navigate the blinding effects of low sun.

Practical Tips for Drivers

Tip One: Keep Your Screen Clean

A clean windscreen is your first line of defence against low sun glare. Dirt, dust, road salt, and other residues can exacerbate the blinding effect of the sun, significantly impairing your vision. To combat this, ensure your windscreen is spotless both inside and out.

Keep Your Screen Clean

  • How to Clean: Begin by using water and a soft brush to gently remove debris from the exterior of your windscreen. Work your way from the edges towards the centre, taking care not to scratch the glass. For the interior, a microfibre cloth and a suitable glass cleaner can help remove fingerprints and smudges.
  • Avoid Climbing on the Bonnet: Reaching the middle of the windscreen can be challenging, but climbing on the bonnet is not advisable due to the risk of damage. Instead, consider purchasing a telescopic brush from your local hardware store, making the task safer and more accessible.
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Tip Two: Ensure Visibility with Proper Screenwash

Visibility is paramount, and ensuring your windscreen can be cleared effectively while on the move is essential. The windscreen washer system plays a pivotal role in maintaining clear visibility.

  • Screenwash: Regular water may freeze in the washer jets during cold mornings, rendering them useless. Opt for a quality screenwash solution that not only cleans effectively but also prevents freezing. Remember to check and top up your washer fluid regularly, especially before long journeys.

Tip Three: Adjust Your Driving According to Conditions

Adapting your driving to the conditions is a hallmark of a safe and considerate driver. Low sun requires particular adjustments:

Adjust Your Driving According to Conditions

  • Increase Stopping Distances: The glare from low sun can make it harder to judge distances accurately. Compensate by leaving more space between you and the vehicle in front, allowing more time to react.
  • Slow Down: If dazzled by low sun, reduce your speed to maintain control and give yourself additional time to respond to hazards. The Highway Code rule 237 reminds us: ‘If you’re dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop.’

Tip Four: Regular Maintenance of Washer Fluid

Keeping your windscreen clean isn’t a one-off task. With more dirt and spray during the winter months, your windscreen washer fluid will deplete faster.

  • Weekly Checks: Make it a habit to check your washer fluid levels at least once a week. Running out of fluid mid-journey, especially in low sun conditions, can quickly turn from a nuisance to a safety hazard.

Tip Five: Use Sunglasses for Better Visibility

Sunglasses aren’t just for summer. A pair of polarised sunglasses can significantly reduce glare and improve contrast, making it easier to see in bright sunlight.

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Use Sunglasses for Better Visibility

  • Choosing Sunglasses: Look for sunglasses that offer UV protection and are polarised, as they are most effective at reducing glare. Keep a pair in your vehicle for easy access when conditions demand.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the challenges of low sun requires a blend of preparedness, awareness, and action. By understanding the risks and employing the tips outlined above, drivers can significantly reduce the hazards associated with low sun.

Safety is a collective responsibility, and by taking these steps, we contribute to a safer road environment for everyone.

Driving in low sun conditions doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right approach and adjustments, you can maintain safety and comfort, ensuring that the sun’s glare does not compromise your driving experience.

Remember, the key to safe driving under any conditions is vigilance, adaptability, and a proactive attitude towards safety.