It’s always a good idea to bring a pair of sunglasses with you when you’re heading out on the road because you never know when sun-strike may occur.
Sun-strike can affect drivers at any time of year, and it’s caused when the angle of sunlight hitting a car’s windscreen creates a blinding glare.
Many drivers simply throw any old pair of sunnies on without much thought, but there are a few things worth considering when choosing your shades.
If you’re considering investing in a new pair of sunglasses ahead of the summer and plan to use them while driving, here are some pointers to help you make a sensible choice.
Easy choice, right?
It’s not as simple as just picking up a pair of Ray-Bans and being done with it. Did you know choosing the wrong sunglasses can actually have a negative effect? Some sunnies don’t let enough light enter, which impairs visibility; others, such as the classic Elton John rose-tinted glass, can distort your vision which, unsurprisingly, can become a hazard while driving.
When driving, it’s important to keep your peripheral vision clear and protected from the sun. Oversized frames can obstruct your peripheral vision, which makes it harder to see hazards on the road and increases the risk of a collision.
Our recommendation is having large lenses with slim arms, i.e. the classic aviator. Fun fact - aviator sunglasses were originally developed in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb for pilots to protect their eyes while flying, thus the name ‘aviator’.
If you still want thicker arms for your sunglasses you could opt for some wraparound sunglasses. Their arms tend to be mounted further back, so your peripheral vision is not reduced and your eyes are still protected from the sun.
Choosing the wrong coloured lenses can negatively impact how well a driver can see road signs and traffic lights, as well as spot potential hazards. Pink, blue and green lenses should generally NOT be worn while driving, as they can make traffic light colours indistinguishable.
Some of the best sunglasses for driving are more neutral shades, such as brown and grey – purely because they don’t alter the colours you’re seeing.
Some sunglasses that are specifically designed for driving feature amber or yellowish tones which help assist with definition and clarity.
Whichever colour lenses you opt for, tint density is another important consideration and comes down to personal preference. The density is usually marked on a scale of 0 (clear) to 4 (very dark), and is an important factor when determining how much light passes through the lens and reaches your eyes.
Sun strike is serious
Crash analysis by the AA reveals that there were four deaths from crashes involving sunstrike during 2019, in addition to 25 serious injuries and 115 minor injuries.
AA road safety spokesman, Dylan Thomsen, says anticipating when sun-strike is likely to be an issue is the best way to prevent problems.
“Obviously, accidents will be less likely if motorists take the right measures to ensure they can see clearly. Good vision is absolutely essential to safe driving, as are simple things like keeping your windscreen clean, using your headlights during the day and keeping a good following distance,” he says.
Choosing the right sunglasses should be given more thought than the old ‘one size fits all’ approach. And who knows…they might just save your life one day.
AA Member Benefit - Specsavers
Did you know that AA Members are entitled to a free eye test at Specsavers (valued at $60), once every two years? Book your free eye test at your nearest Specsavers store and remember to present your AA Membership card on arrival.
How the AA can help with your Road Trip
- AA Auto Centre - aa.co.nz/autocentre
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- AA Auto Glass - aa.co.nz/autoglass
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