Driving in bright, dazzling conditions — be it day or night — can be a safety hazard as your vision is impeded. You may have suffered from the effect of bright headlights from other vehicles or from the direct rays of the sun. What can you do to avoid getting blinded and keep safe while behind the wheels?
If you have been driving for some time, you would have noticed how much brighter the lights on vehicles have grown over past couple of years. This is a common complaint among drivers, especially those who are usually on the move in the early hours of the morning or at night.
Thanks to improvements in lighting technology, super high-intensity discharge headlights are much brighter than the older, halogen-based lights. On top of that, more cars are getting bigger and taller, and the ride-height difference is more likely to cause glare issues among those driving smaller, lower-slung cars.
While drivers may love the new lights for brightening up their path effectively, they may not realise that they are literally blind people in oncoming vehicles. The brightness also affects the rear-view vision of the cars ahead. This is thus a potential hazard for other drivers. To relieve the discomfort and distress, they will instinctively look away or shield their eyes from the light source, thus making them take their eyes off the road.
If you are faced with dazzling lights head on, divert your eyes from the light source — don’t stare into them! You can look around the light source so you don’t get blinded; this allows you to see the traffic conditions better. In these situations, slow down to give your eyes more time to adjust to the lighting environment for you to react appropriately to the road conditions.
The same can be true for driving on a sunny day. The moment the sun hits you head-on, you will have a hard time seeing the traffic conditions ahead, or even reading traffic signs and signals. In these conditions, try to drive within or slower than the speed limit.
Any time there’s a condition that affects your driving vision, always slow down. You cannot react to something that you cannot see, even for a short time. And that is true when you are exiting a tunnel. The moment you exit one into bright sunlight, you will experience momentary blindness. That’s why you should never speed out of a tunnel, especially during a searing hot and bright day. Keep it slow and let your eyes acclimatise to the surroundings.
All modern cars have sun visors, so use them. Most are designed to block sunlight coming in from the front and side without hindering the driver’s vision. As an option, you can get polarising sunglasses, which help reduce glare without darkening the vision. This will reduce strain on your eyes and protect them from the harmful effects of direct sunlight.
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