Dazzling danger for drivers

Accidents due to low sun increase threefold in October

8 October 2009

October is the peak month for accidents caused by low sun dazzling drivers, so the AA is encouraging motorists to give the windscreen a thorough clean to help maintain clear vision.

More than three times as many drivers are involved in collisions after being dazzled by low sun in October than September, and twice as many as in November, according to claims data from AA Insurance.

Last week, one of the AA's members narrowly avoided becoming a statistic when her car was hit at the roadside by a driver blinded by the sun. In 2008, 34 people were killed after being dazzled by the sun and it's a contributory factor in 2 per cent of all road accidents1 – a bigger problem than being dazzled by approaching headlamps.

AA advice

AA patrol of the year Stewart Topp Stewart Topp, AA breakdown patrol of the year, says: "Keep a look out and try to anticipate when low sun might be a problem – especially coming over the brow of a hill. If you do get dazzled, slow down, lower the visor and, if you can safely do so, put on sunglasses.

"Don't jam on your brakes in panic as this might cause the driver behind, who might also be dazzled, to run into the back of you. Don't turn on the washer in an attempt to clear the screen either – you won't be able to see anything while it clears. Wait until you have moved relative to the sun before you do so.

"Also, be aware that if a low sun is behind you, a driver turning out of a side road ahead may well be dazzled by the sun and not see you. Take extra care on country roads too, where hedges can create long shadows."

Elbow grease

Drivers can improve vision significantly by making sure that the windscreen is kept clean – inside and out. Stewart Topp says: "The inside of the windscreen inevitably accumulates a hazy film over time, which together with the dirt, scratches and chips on the outside, intensifies the sun's dazzle.

"A polishing product, like jeweller's rouge, can be used to help remove fine scratches but nothing beats cleaning the windscreen thoroughly and regularly. The cleaner the screen, the less likely you are to find your vision reduced. If you're out on the road and have nothing else to hand, a screwed up newspaper is an effective way to get rid of the worst of the grime."

The AA also recommends that drivers keep a good quality pair of sunglasses within easy reach; that windscreen wash is topped up with a proper additive and that wiper blades are regularly cleaned and in good condition – they typically last for two years at the most.


1Source: Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2008 Annual Report, Department for Transport

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8 October 2009