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Why you could be fined for driving with and without sunglasses

Post on 19th July 2022

The summer heatwave has seen contrasting headlines warning that drivers could be fined for not wearing sunglasses and also fined for wearing the wrong kind of sunglasses at the wheel.

If you’re in the dark over this issue, here’s some timely advice as temperatures rise and the sun beats down.

At Scrivens Opticians and Hearing Care, we have over 80 years of experience as one of the leading Opticians in the UK. If you’re looking to find out more about the official regulations of wearing sunglasses whilst driving, keep on reading.

What are the official regulations for wearing sunglasses when driving?

You can wear sunglasses while driving. It is not a legal requirement in bright conditions but you could still be considered by police to be ‘driving without due care and attention’.  It’s not clear how likely this is, but it is worth noting that the Highway Code says if you are dazzled by bright sunlight, you should slow down and if necessary stop.

As glare is one of the primary causes of crashes it makes sense for drivers to wear sunglasses, providing they are suitable. They should not be too dark and should not be a style that could obscure your peripheral vision as these could also land you in trouble with the law.

Drivers need to be mindful to drive with care and attention in all conditions.

A guide from motoring organisation, the AA, which shares advice from the Optical Suppliers Association states your driving sunglasses should:

  • Carry the CE safety mark
  • Meet the European Standard BS EN 1836:2005 which relates to the lens filters
  • Keep your vision clear – i.e. they do not block your peripheral vision by covering the sides of your eyes
  • Provide enough light for you to see – i.e. the tint is not too dark and still allows enough light to filter through.

Further top tips include:

  • Consider a specialist driving lens or tint
  • Be aware that your everyday sunglasses might not be suitable for driving
  • Always keep a spare pair of driving sunglasses in the car

Sunglasses and their lenses are ranked from categories zero to four based on how much light is able to filter through the tint. Category four sunglasses are too dark to be suitable for daytime or night time driving, so are not allowed.

Sunglasses ranging from a ‘light tint’ to a ‘dark tint’ (categories one to three) are not suitable for night time driving, but are alright during the day. Yellow-tinted sunglasses are not suitable for night use, either.

There are also two types of tinted sunglasses to consider:

  • Variable tint, which changes tint density depending on the light
  • Fixed tint, which stays at the same darkness no matter how sunny or dark it is

Not all variable tint sunglasses are suitable for driving, though some are. Fixed tint sunglasses can be good for driving, particularly those with polarised lenses, as they reduce glare. A fixed tint can also be added to prescription glasses.

If you would like more advice on the options for sun and glare protection, and whether your driving sunglasses are road-safe, help is available at your local Scrivens branch.

We have an extensive range of prescription sunglasses, including varifocal lenses, light adaptive lenses as well as sunglasses that can be worn while wearing contact lenses.

If you found this blog useful, you may also be interested in learning how to protect your eyes from sun damage.