How To Drive In Bright Light & Sunny Conditions

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

When we think of seasonal weather conditions that can cause issues when driving, we mostly think of snow, ice, fog, storms and other extreme weather scenarios, however, there is another significant risk factor that can happen at any time of the year but is perhaps most likely to catch you out when you least expect it in autumn or winter – the sun.

Many drivers are unaware of the danger that bright sunlight can present.

Instead, the other types of weather events that we have listed above are much likely to have been prepared for, however, statistics show that almost 4000 people are injured each year due to accidents caused by the blinding effects of the sun.

The sun visor in your car may not provide adequate protection for your eyes in certain conditions, particularly when the sun is at a low angle (e.g. during winter).

If the road surface is wet and reflects the sun back as a strong glare, your vision and your control of the vehicle can be seriously affected.

What You Will Learn

Driving in bright sunlight really can be menacing and catch people unaware.

You can be driving along a stretch of road on an autumn day only to turn the corner and suddenly have the sun, big, bright and low, shining right in to your eyes.

It’s not something you can really avoid, so instead it’s about ensuring you know what to do when this happens and that you are confident in remaining safe on the road when incidents of bright sunshine do occur.

This guide aims to give you the information you need to be safe next time you’re dazzled by the sun when driving your car.

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

An extreme glare from bright sunshine can render you blind but there are are a number of things you can do to make sure that you keep control of your vehicle:

Keep Windscreen Topped Up:

  • Keep your windscreen as clean as possible. This is probably one area a lot of motorists actually fall down on, especially during the winter months. When you take your car for an MOT, if your washer bottles are empty then your car fails. That should tell you how important it is to keep them topped up. When you get bright sunlight, a squirt of the washers and wipe of the windscreen should keep your visibility good. If you cannot clean your windscreen, then it’s going to be almost impossible to see out of your windscreen when the light is glaring down on it.
  • When the sun hits the screen, any bits of dirt or debris on it can cause a prism effect and scatter the sunlight, which reduces your visibility.
  • Make sure that you give your windscreen a good clean before starting your journey. This should involve using warm soapy water, working the suds with a brush, and finishing off with a window cleaner fluid.
  • If you are going to drive after an overnight frost you must carefully scrape all bits off the screen to make sure it is clear.
  • During the cold months, keep your windscreen fluid topped up and replace your blades if they are showing wear and tear. You should replace your windscreen wipers every twelve months to keep them in good shape for this kind of weather. The concentration of your screen-wash to water mixture should be much higher to ensure that it does not freeze either in the bottle or on the windscreen when you spray it.

Wear Sunglasses:

  • Although the sun visor in your vehicle is designed to protect your eyes from bright sunlight, it is also recommended that you wear sunglasses when the visor is not sufficient alone.
  • Always take a pair of sunglasses with you if the weather looks changeable and keep a spare pair in your vehicle so that you always have them when needed. Having a pair of sunglasses in your car all year round is generally the best advice here as you can need them in just about any season with no notice.
  • Polarised lenses are the best feature to look for when choosing sunglasses. They improve visibility significantly because they block out horizontal-generated light and let in vertical light.  They can be a life-saver when used on wet roads reflected strong sun glare.

Hints & Tips

In addition to the information we’ve given above, you also need to exercise some simple safe driving techniques when you’re driving in bright sunshine.

For example, maintaining a safe distance is vital.

Even though the road is likely to be dry, if you cannot see in front of you very well due to the sunlight then you’re going to see the vehicle in front slow down or stop much later.

Give yourself additional time and space to stop.

Furthermore, if you’re on a particularly quick road, such as a motorway, then simply slow down.

Many drivers attempt to continue speeding at usual pace along the road even though they only have partial visibility.

You need to be aware of those road users as much as you do of your own speed.

As with so much in driving, it’s about being safe and maintaining control of your vehicle.

Useful Information

When driving in any challenging conditions it is very important that you keep your speed low as you may need to stop abruptly and affect the driver behind you.

The driver following you may be blinded by the sun and unable to stop as quickly as he/she would normally do.

Final Thoughts

Blinding sun glare usually happens in the morning or evening when the sun is very low in the sky.

If you stay extra vigilant during these times you will be as prepared as possible to navigate your way through these difficult conditions and arrive at your destination safe.

Further Resources