Beware dangers of winter sunset glare

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IOL mot pic jul1 Windscreen Glare

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Overtaking into the setting sun is as dangerous as passing on a blind rise. If you look carefully, there is a car in the oncoming lane.

Johannesburg - One of the problems with midwinter in South Africa, especially in Gauteng, is the glare of the setting sun during the afternoon rush hour - just when you need all the visibility you can get.

A dazzling sunset is particularly dangerous when the road turns unexpectedly into it or the glare appears from behind trees or buildings, or by reflection.

Driving into the sun can also block peripheral areas of vision and cause sudden moments of blindness as the sun peeks out from behind surrounding objects.

Robyn Farrell, executive head of 1st for Women Insurance, put it more bluntly.

"The South African AA agrees that dangerous conditions are caused by glare coming off the road surface, bonnet, windscreen or dashboard of your car," she said.

"Because it's cold, we underestimate the strength of the sun's rays at this time of day; we need to be extra-vigilant at this time of year when it comes to joggers, dog walkers and pedestrians.

Farrell's tips for beating the glare:

Keep your car's windscreen clean - inside and out.

Avoid using a vinyl-based cleaner on your dashboard, which can turn the surface into a mirror. Dust particles and other foreign objects on your windscreen can reflect and distort light too.

Don't buy a car with a light-coloured dashboard. Coupled with the slope of the windshield, a light-coloured dashboard can be extremely reflective.

Many sun-glare accidents happen in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is on the horizon and the car's visor is little or no use.

If possible, try to plan your travel so that you're not travelling into the sun; the closer it is to the horizon, the worse the glare will be.

Slow down immediately when you're dazzled by the sun; it's tempting to carry on regardless until the glare passes, but you're essentially driving blind.

If you're driving at sunset - even with the sun behind you - remember that oncoming drivers may not be able to see you at all.

Never overtake into low sunlight - it's essentially the same as overtaking on a blind rise.

If you have to drive into the setting sun, make sure you wear sunglasses, preferably with polarised lenses.

"The easiest way to counteract the glare," concluded Farrell, "is by never forgetting your shades! - and in case you do, keep a spare pair in your glove compartment.


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