The number of road traffic accidents caused by the sun dazzling motorists while they are behind the wheel has soared by 12%, new figures reveal.
In 2012 some 2,905 road accidents in the UK were said to have been caused by the glare from bright sunlight affecting motorists’ vision, compared to 2,592 the previous year, according to the Department for Transport’s annual ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain’ report.
That means dazzling and often low sunlight was the biggest weather-related contributory factor to road accidents last year.
Motorways not the problem
More than two-fifths (41%) of these accidents happened on A-roads, the report found, with only 1.7% occurring on the nation’s motorways.
Other weather-related conditions – including rain, sleet, snow and fog – were found to be the second largest contributory factor, accounting for 2,448 road accidents in 2012, according to the report.
Meanwhile, a further 814 accidents were said to have been down to headlight glare, spray being thrown up off the road by other vehicles, and dirty, scratched or frosted windscreens obscuring motorists’ vision.
‘Sun glare worse in autumn’
According to screen wash maker Prestone, the increase in the number of accidents resulting from motorists being dazzled by the sun ties in with Met Office data that shows there were 293 hours of autumn sunshine during 2012 compared to 277 hours the year before.
With sunset occurring earlier, and increasingly coinciding with the afternoon rush-hour, the risk posed by the glare from sunlight is particularly high in October, Prestone says, adding that motorists’ visibility problems can be compounded by dirty, scratched or greasy windscreens.
Prestone brand manager Juliette Mullineux said autumn driving throws up various challenges for motorists including low dazzling sun, road spray and rain.
She added: “Motorists often forget that driving without screen wash is illegal and carries a penalty of three points and a hefty fine.”
Drivers who do end up involved in road traffic accidents can get tips on potential
claims for personal injury from Accident Advice Helpline.
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