Drive safe and cool with sunglasses
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Before you head out on New Zealand roads, it’s always a good idea to bring a pair of sunglasses along for the ride.
The majority of drivers simply throw any old pair of glasses on without much thought ... apart from how suave they’ll look behind the wheel.
In winter, New Zealand motorists are vulnerable to sun-strike. This is when the angle of sunlight hitting a car’s windscreen creates a blinding glare; with the sun low in the sky on clear winter mornings and evenings, sun-strike can be dangerous.
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 have a negative effect?
Some sunnies don’t let enough light enter, which impairs visibility; whereas others, such as the classic Elton John rose-tinted glass literally distort your vision, becoming a hazard for the driver.
Here are our tips on choosing the best sunglasses to enhance your driving experience.
When you’re driving it’s important to keep your peripheral vision clear and protected from the sun. Oversized frames (think Paris Hilton), can obstruct your peripheral vision making it harder to see hazards on the road, increasing the risk of a collision.
Our recommendation is having large lenses with slim arms — yup you guessed it — the classic aviator. Fun fact: aviator sunglasses, or “pilot’s glasses”, 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, 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, and spot potential hazards. Scientific research indicates pink, blue and green lenses should generally NOT be worn while driving as they can make red lights indistinguishable.
Some of the best glasses for driving are more neutral shades such as brown and grey — purely because they don’t alter the colours you’re seeing.
Some glasses that are specifically designed for driving feature amber or yellowish tones which 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 (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 there were 21 deaths from crashes involving sun-strike over the past five years. From 2013 to 2017, 780 motorists were injured, 141 seriously.
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 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 may save your life one day.