Monday, January 24, 2022

North Eastern Authorities issue a Reminder to All Drivers of a Potentially Deadly Peril

Everyone Enjoys the Sunshine - but Protect Against it on the Road in Winter
Shipping News Feature

UK – Sometimes it is worthwhile stating the b******g obvious, particularly when lives are at stake and recently the local government authorities in Middlesborough have been circulating a message from the Cleveland Road Safety Partnership, warning drivers of an oft forgotten, yet potentially deadly hazard.

Low winter sunshine can prove deadly, as evidenced by the statistics which the CRSP says have seen one fatality and 148 injured, many seriously, as a direct result of local drivers being temporarily blinded by it in the past four years. Incidents commonly happen around junctions in urban areas, when the sun is low in the sky and particularly after it has rained and the road surface is wet and more reflective.

The danger is not just to drivers, particularly if a goods vehicle is involved, putting other road users and pedestrians at risk. Driving in winter often means having to contend with the sun starting to rise or set at peak commuting times, blinding drivers as they navigate already hazardous road conditions. Andy Corcoran, Chair of the Cleveland Road Safety Partnership, points out:

"It may seem blindingly obvious, but low sun can be a particularly severe hazard at this time of the year, particularly if the roads are wet or icy. However, by taking a few simple steps, drivers can significantly reduce their chances of being involved in a collision, and, by doing so, help to make our roads safer for everyone."

The CRSP points to several of these common sense steps, all of which should be known and practiced, particularly by professional drivers. These are:

  • Have sunglasses handy in the vehicle - polarised lenses are best as they will help with glare as well as direct sunlight.
  • Use the visor - visors are designed to block out the sun without hindering vision. They also reduce the amount of the light that enters the field of vision, which helps the eyes adjust better when entering patches of shade. Consider using the visor even if the sun isn't directly in the eyes.
  • Keep the washer bottle topped up and clean the windscreen before setting off - dirty windscreens can really amplify glares, as the dirt scatters sunlight.
  • Slow down and double the distance to the vehicles in front, to give extra time to adjust to sudden stops or erratic driving from other road users in bright and low sunlight.
  • Take extra care at junctions or moving out - a second look could be a life-saver.
  • If walking or on two wheels take extra care to ensure visibility.

There really is no excuse for having a ‘greasy‘ windscreen, a factor which increases the chances of a problem by some way. As Councillor Eric Polano, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for Regeneration pointed out, the onset of glorious weather in winter brings unexpected hazards, backed up by Steve Johnson, Senior Head of Prevention at Cleveland Fire Brigade, who said:

"We are asking all road users to think about the risks posed by low sun when using the road so they don't get caught out and be suddenly blinded as the consequences could be fatal. Prepare for these added challenges whether you are on foot, two wheels or driving a motor vehicle. Adjust your speed accordingly and be vigilant for other road users whose presence may be obscured by the sun."