The sun is out at long last, so it’s time to don the shades as soon as you get behind the wheel. Or is it?
If you’re not in-line with the law, then you could find yourself facing a fine…
Surely wearing sunglasses when driving is a good idea?
It is – not least because the Highway Code itself states (Rule 237) that ‘drivers must slow down or, if necessary, pull over if they get dazzled by bright sunlight’.
If you don’t heed this advice, then you could be charged with careless driving, and if a collision occurs due to you driving directly into bright sunlight you could be fined up to £2,500, or at least a fixed penalty fine of £100 if you’re blinded by the light and commit a driving offence.
So yes, keep a pair of shades handy in your car for when you need them.
So why could I be breaking the law?
Put simply, not all sunglasses are safe for driving in.
They are split into four types of light and UV penetration, and the darkest Category 4 lenses allow less than eight per cent of light to pass through – great if you’re lying on your back on a sunlounger soaking up the rays, but not so when you’re driving up the motorway.
According to the AA: “Filter Category 4 lenses only transmit between 3 per cent and 8 per cent of light and are not suitable for driving at any time.”
These types of glasses are illegal for driving, in much the same way that you can be fined for having a similar level of tint on your windows.
In a press statement to the Metro newspaper, a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: “We have some of the safest roads in Europe and our campaigns, especially those focusing on road safety, play a key role in ensuring the public stays safe on the roads.
“We are not aware of any particular sunglasses that are illegal to wear while driving. But drivers must clearly be able to see the road ahead of them, and their sunglasses should not prevent them from doing so.”
How do I check?
The law states that every pair of sunglasses sold in the UK comes with a removeable label or sticker advising of their filter category. Filter Categories 1-3 are legal for driving, though Filter category 3 could impact your vision in lower light situations, meaning Category 1 or Category 2 are the safest choices for drivers.