May and June are the worst months of the year for road crashes due to drivers being blinded by sun-strike.
Sun-strike is when the angle of sunlight hitting a windscreen creates glare that is very hard for a driver to see through. The problem is worst on winter mornings and afternoons, when the sun is low in the sky. Sun-strike may seem like it’s just a minor annoyance when you’re driving but every year about 2 people are killed and 200 people injured in NZ in crashes where the driver was blinded by dazzling sunlight.”
The most common types of crashes involving sun-strike are people pulling out from a side-street or driveway into the path of another vehicle they did not see, or rear-ending a vehicle that had stopped. Sun-strike also adds risks for cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists on the road, as they can more easily be hidden in the glare due to their smaller size.
On sunny mornings and afternoons everyone needs to be extra cautious at intersections and not assume a driver has seen them. Even if you aren’t affected by sun-strike yourself other people may be struggling to see you. It is recommended that drivers wear polarised sunglasses in sunny conditions. Polarised lenses let the right light in and keep bad light out, eliminating any distractions and impairments caused by reflections off shiny surfaces like vehicles, metal glass or water.
How to minimise sun-strike risks:
- Anticipate when it may happen and use your visors or sunglasses
- Go for polarised sunglasses as these are best at combating glare
- Drive with your headlights on so your vehicle is easier to see
- Keep your windscreen clean inside and out
- If you are hit by sun-strike, slow down and be extra cautious in your driving