Low sun warning: Local authority guidance to drivers for winter season

Visibility is a big factor in staying safe out on the roads for a very simple reason: What you see, you can react to, or at least try to, according to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) which is warning about sun glare.

The safety organisation has said it’s “so important to drive to the conditions”.

In heavy rain or fog, visibility can be reduced to a few metres.

Similarly there have been reports of cyclists or pedestrians in a collision with vehicles because the driver was blinded by the low sun.

The RSA says in these situations “it is imperative to slow down, turn on the headlights and take extra caution on the roads”.

In the autumn and winter months there is an unlikely danger lurking in the field of vision of drivers: The sun. The reason is the season. In the cooler months the sun sits lower in the sky.

The road safety office of Mayo County Council has put together a key list of tips for driving in the sun. During autumn and winter, the sun is more likely to be in your field of vision for longer in the course of any given day.

That means that drivers of cars, tractors, vans or lorries are more at risk of suffering sun-blindness, when the sun’s glare is so overwhelming that it makes it hard to see anything else.

The guidelines issued by Mayo County Council are as follows:
  • Use polarised sunglasses that can help prevent glare;
  • Delay driving times to occur before or after sunrise or sunset;
  • Don’t use high-gloss products on the dashboard, which can contribute to extra glare;
  • Keep the inside and outside of the windshield clean;
  • Make use of sun visors;
  • If glare is a problem, leave extra space between your vehicle and others in the event of sudden stopping or other road hazards;
  • Drive slowly and be mindful of obstructions;
  • Try taking another route that goes in a different direction than the one from which the sun is shining;
  • Leave extra time so that you don’t feel rushed getting to your destination;
  • Eye exams or surgery can make eyes more sensitive to the sunlight. Avoid driving after these appointments.

Road safety officer in the communications department of Mayo County Council Noel Gibbons said:

“Keep your windscreen clean, both inside and out. On de-mist, your heater blows traffic fumes, suspended oil and smoke onto the inside of the screen and wet roads add dirt and scratches to the outside.

“Drivers should take extra care early in the morning, especially in deep mid-winter when the sun is at its lowest.

“Mature drivers should consider their options regarding eyewear, ensure their eyes are checked regularly and appropriate tinted glasses are available,” added Gibbons.

Many slower and more vulnerable road users – joggers, dog walkers, pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders – will be trying to take advantage of the last of the light evenings before the clocks go back. All road users need to be fully aware of the potential twilight dangers.

“Joggers, dog walkers, workers returning home on foot and other pedestrians walking with their backs to vehicles are almost twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured in road accidents. Always walk facing oncoming traffic,” he concluded.

Five people have been killed on the country’s roads in the past seven days.