Driving Safely With Commuter Glare
Finally, the days in Edmonton are slowly becoming longer! While winter may be still in full force, many of us are enjoying the sun coming out earlier and staying up longer with each passing day edging closer to spring. Unfortunately, this transition often means nothing but glare for drivers during their commute. Direct glare from the sun is a major factor in both driving safety and eye health. While over 95% of us are focused on safety by wearing our seatbelt while driving 1, only a fraction of drivers own proper glasses that protect against non-optimal driving conditions, like glare, which have been noted to be the cause of over 3000 accidents in regions like the UK.2
While the required regulations for visual acuity are set at 6/15 (or 20/50) for Albertans, there’s currently no regulation on the need for eyewear based on external conditions. Our best bet for staying safe on those sunny commutes is to use the vehicle’s sun visor along with a pair of polarized sunglasses.
What Are Polarized Sunglasses And How Do They Work?
Polarized sunglasses utilize a chemical film that is composed of molecules aligned in a parallel nature that reduce scattered light. Because most of the glare we experience is bounced off things horizontally, such as the hood of the car, snow and bodies of water, polarized sunglasses run parallel to those angles and diffuse that glare. Reducing this scattered glare will be our primary advantage in increasing our driving safety. From NASCAR professionals to Sunday drivers, we can expect to find polarized sunglasses as a basic addition to increase driving acuity.
Why Don’t Manufacturers Just Polarize Windshields?
While there are 3rd party manufacturers that do create polarized windshields, it’s simply not worthwhile for a major manufacturer for a variety of reasons:
- We can expect to have a ~50% reduction in light transmission with polarized surfaces. While this is great for daytime driving, this causes significant visibility issues at night.
- Many drivers experience different conditions that determine their need for glare reduction. For example, a polarized windshield might work great for someone in California who expects to have sunny days nearly all year, but for an Albertan on a dark December afternoon – not as much.
- When it comes to headlight-specific glare, divided highways and easily switchable high beams have reduced the amount of oncoming glare as auto tech advances.
- Many countries have legal standards and regulations on polarizing windshields, similar to that of tinted windows.
- Finally, cost. Polarizing an entire windshield can be a pricey accessory or an expensive repair.
Outside of finding the proper eyewear, here’s a handful of helpful tricks to help reduce incoming glare while driving.
- Keep your windshield clean. Dirty glass scatters light more than clean glass, so your best bet is to top up on windshield wiper fluid to keep your line of sight clear from glare. Don’t forget to buff away that haze that can build up on the INSIDE of the windshield also.
- Have any cracks or pits in your windshield fixed. Imperfections in a glass surface can create a mirror effect, re-directing angled light towards your eyes.
- Use sun visor extenders. Sometimes your standard visor doesn’t cover a large enough area. These simple accessories fasten to your pre-existing visor and allow for additional coverage.
Special Thanks to Edmonton’s Local Optometry Clinic, The Vision Gallery, for the Guest Post