How to deal with low sun

Car parked early morning on a housing estate.

Hello! It’s 2020 and after a short break, the Safe Driving for Life blog is back with a bang. To kick off the year (OK, we’re into February), we’re going to take a look at low sun. No, that isn’t a new brand of zero sugar soft drink; in fact it’s a nasty problem for drivers in winter. 

Sun interesting facts

According to the Department for Transport, 3,900 people are injured in incidents involving low, dazzling sun each year.

Ray of blight

So why does it happen? Well, in winter the sun rises and sets during the morning/evening commute. Its low angle in the sky pushes rays below the sun visor and into the eyes of unwary drivers. It’s even worse when the road is wet, as the sun reflects off the damp surface creating glare that makes judging distances (and spotting hazards!) very difficult.

Rays of hope

If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘so what can I do? It’s not like I can switch the sun off’, then have no fear; there are ways of making our fiery friend easier to deal to with.

Number one:  A filthy screen can make dazzle even worse. If it’s covered in muck, road salt, flies, condensation or anything else likely to block your view, then give it a good clean. For those of you who’re terrified of car maintenance, don’t worry. All you need is a bit of water, a soft brush and a good attitude. Start from the edge then work your way towards the centre. If you struggle to reach the middle of the windscreen, climbing on the bonnet is not recommended. Grab* yourself a telescopic brush from the nearest hardware store and banish tiptoes forever.

Number two: You’re not quite done with the cleaning yet. Make sure you can clear your windscreen on the move by checking the washer bottle.  If it needs topping up, do it before you start your journey - don’t wait for the next stop.  Some people just use water, but we suggest upgrading to a proper screenwash. It’s cheap, easy to get hold of and resists freezing on those frosty mornings.

Number three:  Slow down and leave a bigger stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front. If in doubt, remember Highway Code rule number 237. It says:  ‘If you’re dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop.’ If you ignore this rule and end up hitting someone else’s vehicle, the police could slap you with an on the spot fine of £100 and add three points to your licence. Don’t do it!

Number four: You know that thing we said about topping up the windscreen washer bottle? Well there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that you’ll be able to clean your windscreen at the flick of a stick. The bad news is that you’re likely to flick that stick quite a lot in winter, as there’s just more dirt and spray around. Throw in scattered sunlight through a dirty screen (see tip number one) and the chances are you’ll be doing quite a lot of washing. Fortunately the solution (sorry, couldn’t resist that) is simple: check your washer fluid levels at least once a week. The last thing you want is to be caught with nothing in the bottle!

Number five: Get yourself a decent pair of sunglasses. If you don’t know where to start, we have a very handy blog post that gives you the lowdown on the essential facts right here.

Dazzling future

There you go, completely and utterly worth waiting for, wasn’t it? And if you liked it and want more of the same, then check back here soon for more top tips.

Can’t wait that long? Check out the Safe Driving for Life shop for the complete range of DVSA titles; they’re packed full of great advice for every stage of your driving life.

*please pay for it first!