No matter what vehicle you drive or how often you are behind the wheel, safety precautions in extreme or adverse weather always remain the same. You must alter the way you drive to meet the season and the different struggles or hazards that they may bring. We often hear of tips and recommendations to ensure that you stay safe in weather such as rain, ice and heavy wind, but very rarely what to keep an eye out for when driving in the sun. And although it is true that winter conditions can be considerably more dangerous, this most definitely does not mean that you should no longer remain vigilant for potential dangers as the weather improves. With this in mind, we have put together a host of helpful tips on how to stay safe while on the roads in the glorious sunshine!
7 Top Tips For Driving In The Sun
The warmer months seem to give us all a new lease of life. Although this year has been very different from what we are used to and we seem far from normality, driving has started to feel like the only sense of freedom that we have. Whether it may be driving to the supermarket for the weekly shop or travelling to and from work, the time spent in our vehicle is the only thing that has not changed since the lockdown. This means that it is more important than ever to ensure that you are familiarised with how to remain safe on the roads during the summer.
Having provided driving tuition to learners for several decades, whether this may be in the form of C1 training in Milton Keynes or towing courses in Bedford, we are well-versed in various tips on avoiding dangers when behind the wheel. So, we have put together a guide, including the advice that we give all of our pupils, which if followed, will protect them against the sun-related driving dangers. Without further ado, let’s begin taking a closer look at the following:
- Beware Of Glares
- Clear Dashboard Clutter
- Keep Windows Clean
- Increase Your Stopping Distance
- Keep Sunglasses In Your Car
- Stock Up On Essentials
- Turn On Your Lights
One of the biggest distractions and therefore, dangers that the sun causes is glaring, particularly in the morning when the sun is rising and again in the evening when the sun is setting. These are both periods in the day in which the sun is at its lowest, meaning that visibility is likely to be dramatically reduced. However, there are ways in which you can avoid hazardous glares; this includes altering the time that you are on the roads, along with the route that you take.
Glaring is less likely to cause an issue if your vehicle can be shielded as much as possible from the sun. For example, although traffic can be frustrating, you’re likely to find that glares will be slightly less intense during rush hour as you are surrounded by other cars blocking the sun. If you can afford to switch up your route altogether, on the other hand, this can also be beneficial. Aim to opt for ways that are predominantly through either built-up housing estates or city centres as these areas will prevent you from experiencing glares as much as you would do so on an open motorway or country road, for instance. Why? Because again, the more buildings or trees that you have around you, the more there is to block out the sun, resulting in reduced glare.
If you have no option but to drive while there are significant glares, then try to utilise your sun visors as much as possible. Your visors are designed explicitly to block any sun that is hindering your vision, which allows your eyes to adjust better to focus on the road ahead. Before setting off, spend some time repositioning your visors so that they work for your height and driving angles.
If you spend a considerable chunk of your day in your vehicle, for example, if you are a lorry, truck or minibus driver, it can be easy to start to accumulate a heap of rubbish and clutter on your dashboard. You most likely would have been taught in your trailer training course in Bedford or caravan towing course in Milton Keynes the importance of maintaining a safe vehicle, and this includes not only the exterior but also the interior.
The biggest culprit for causing issues is anything paper-like or light in colour, whether this may be old receipts, plastic wrappers or CDs. As we know from clothing colour recommendations in the sun, light colours reflect the sun, so keep this thought in mind when it comes to driving. If you have a bundle of paperwork on your dashboard, then it will do the exact same thing and reflect the sun, causing a more intense glare. This means that you should always ensure that you keep your dashboard clear from clutter at all times. If you know that you are guilty of leaving rubbish in your car, then consider investing in a car bin, which is equipped with a waterproof lining to prevent leaking and can attach to the back of a seat. All you will need to do is ensure that once a week or whenever it becomes full, you take the bin inside to empty.
A dirty car is often unavoidable; you cannot anticipate when there will be a large puddle, debris will fall from trees or dust will be dispersed over your car. However, leaving your vehicle to build up dirt not only ruins the appearance of your car but also disrupts visibility. Similarly to the previous point, a dirty windscreen will again create more glare, and when the sun hits the dirt on the windscreen, it can become very tricky to see.
If you plan to embark on a long journey, take a few minutes out before you set off to check your windscreen is clean. You do not necessarily have to clean the entire car, as long as you wipe off any dirt that could cause a problem, the rest of the car can wait. Through a quality glass cleaner, a soft brush and a little elbow grease, you can complete the job within minutes. Find out more tips on how to clean your windscreen and guarantee sparkling results every time, take a look at The Windscreen Company.
As a basic maintenance task, also always ensure that your vehicle is topped up with wiper fluid and your wipers are in good condition. Look out for wear and tear such as cracking that may have been caused by the colder months, along with any other signs of damage. If you spot that they are no longer serving their purpose, then you should most definitely replace your wiper blades. In ensuring that your vehicle is topped up with wiper fluid and the blades are in good condition, you can ensure that any dirt accumulated while on the road can be cleared from your windscreen with ease.
One of the most common causes of small bumps and dents to vehicles is the sun. When the sun is low, and glare is at an ultimate high, you often mistake how close the vehicle in front is, especially when stuck in heavy traffic. By far, one of the most important pieces of advice you can be given as a driver is if you are not completely sure how close a vehicle is in front of you and you do not feel as if you could emergency brake in time, increase your stopping distance. You should always increase your stopping distance when visibility is reduced, drop back enough until you can clearly see the vehicle in front and can react in time; you’d rather be safe than sorry!
Not only should you be aware of your own stopping distance, but also the vehicles around you. If the sun is low and glare is intense, remember that all other drivers surrounding you are experiencing the same issues. If a car behind you is driving too close, slowly start to drop your speed, so hopefully, they understand that they are driving both too fast and too close. Do not all of a sudden slam on your brakes as it is more than likely that they will end up hitting your bumper.
Although it may seem obvious, you would be surprised how many drivers forget to keep a spare pair of sunglasses in their car for brighter days. This is particularly essential if you find that your sun visor does not always block the sun as much as you had hoped and even with it is down, you are still experiencing glares.
When searching for sunglasses, while something is always better than nothing, try not to be tempted to pick up the cheapest pair that you can find, as these may not always be effective. Many cheap sunglasses are not equipped with the adequate amount of protection needed to shield your eyes from UV rays. Always opt for sunglasses printed with either the CE, UV 400 or British Standard Mark as these all reassure the quality of your investment. You can find a full sunglasses buying guide, along with information on when you can wear them while driving over on the Eyecare Trust website.
Just like there would be nothing worse than your car breaking down on a cold winters day, having to wait around outside can be just as bad during the warmer months. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are just some of the many dangers of being out in the sunshine for too long, so it is always recommended to keep some essentials in your vehicle, particularly if you are setting off on a long journey. These will ensure that should you fall unlucky with a breakdown; you can wait for a recovery vehicle safely. Below we have put together a checklist of the key necessities that you should consider:
For a full list of everything that you should keep in your car at all times, regardless of the time of year, take a look at RAC’s website.
While it may seem strange to use your lights during the day, especially when the sun is at its strongest, it may help other road users to see you when glares are intense. With this in mind, should you feel as if other drivers may not be able to see you until you are too close, consider turning on your headlights and taillights. This will help others to be able to see you clearer, therefore, keeping the risk of a collision at a minimum.
Staying Safe All Year Round!
These top tips are crucial for keeping yourself and drivers around you safe when driving in the sun. The main danger caused by the sun is glaring, so ensure that you have prepared yourself for the event of low visibility. In many cases, you cannot anticipate when you will be faced with driving in the low sun, so for extra precautions always keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your glovebox. Remember, the sun doesn’t just cause an issue in the summer, winter can be just as bad, so be prepared all year round!