Dazzling Sun - Autumn roads, light and shade
Blog by Jo Farrow
16th October 2018 16:28

Dazzling Sun - Autumn roads, light and shade

Driving at this time of year can be a joy, bright and sunny, pootling past autumn’s colourful leaves. It can also be miserable when wet, windy or foggy and as we head towards winter, becoming darker for more of our journeys.

Even on a fine day, there are issues. Jumping from bright sunshine to darker shady spots, it's hard work on your eyes. The sun visor invariably doesn’t quite cover the brilliance of the low sun. Or if you have remembered your sunglasses then you often come across darker sections and it is harder to spot other road vehicles or users.

These extra hazards need adding into motorists driving thinking. Can the vehicle approaching see you, with the sun behind you? Can you spot a black car coming around a bend, out of a shaded spot? The contrast sunshine/shade/sunshine/shade and distracting colours of beautiful trees does give your brain more to think about. And some people aren’t that considerate or safe at driving, at the best of times.

In October, the northern hemisphere continues to tilt away from the sun. The sun's rays have a longer distance to reach us here in the UK, so it is cooler and the sun doesn't appear as high in the sky, even at midday. So it is at a lower angle in the sky for more of the day, blinding you or other drivers. 

With winter around the corner cyclists, joggers and horse riders will be out at this time of year making the most of the fading fine, sunny weather before the clocks change and it becomes cold, dark and wet. Any reduction of motorists’ vision can be devastating to these more vulnerable road users. This is a risky time of year and failure to look properly is the reason for most road accidents. " I just didn't see them" ."I couldn't see".

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1,466 fatal accidents occurred in 2017 (could include more than one fatality) Includes only accidents where a police officer attended the scene and in which a contributory factor was reported. Dept of Transport.

In 2017, 25 accidents with at least one fatality were reported with the dazzling sun being a contributing factor. There were 449 serious accidents. By comparison, there were 18 fatal accidents linked to fog in Great Britain in 2017 and that seems more obviously dangerous. Taking extra time and being more aware of other road users is key in the next month. For countryside areas; having patience behind farm vehicles as the harvest is gathered in and in cities allowing more time for your journey as the traffic builds after the summer break and towards Christmas.

Bright, high contrasting clothing for active people. That classic black Rapha cycling jersey may look suave on, but you are essentially wearing camouflage.

Put your headlights on, regardless of the sunshine, then they are ready for the dark patches.

Clean windscreens and fill up the screen fluid. The frosts are returning so it’s time to sort the washer fluid with winter-mixture screenwash 

Keep sunglasses in the car, and a de-icer now. Weird mix but that is autumn, a time of transition and contrasts.

Advice from the AA. Remember:

  • If the sun’s behind you, it's in the eyes of those coming towards you.
  • If the sun’s in your eyes it's probably blinding drivers following you too.


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