Are your sunglasses suitable for driving? You might be surprised … and fined!
With clear skies and the sun shining for the foreseeable, it’s no surprise to see more cars on the road with their tops down and drivers sporting the coolest sunglasses this side of Reservoir Dogs. But are they actually suitable for driving in?
EU standard for sunglasses ensures the frames are reasonably strong and sweat resistant and the lenses are shatterproof, scratch resistant and give good protection against harmful ultra-violet light.
But a lot of people don’t seem to realise that the lenses are also graded from 0 to 4 to show how dark the tint is, or more specifically, how much visible light they let through, with the darkest lenses not suitable for driving at ANY time
If you get behind the wheel without appropriate eye wear, you could receive a on-the spot fine of £100, up to three points on your license and even face a fine of up to £2,500 for careless driving.
What are the tint categories for sunglasses?
Category 0 is classed as a clear lens and lets in 80-100% of light and are suitable for driving in at any time.
Category 1 is a light lens and lets in 43-80% of light. These are suitable for driving in daylight and when there’s low sunlight.
Category 2 is a medium lens and lets in 18-43% of light. Drivers can wear these in daylight and medium sunlight but not at night.
Category 3 is a dark tinted lens and lets in 8-18% of sunlight. As such it’s suitable for driving in bright sunlight but for little else.
Category 4 is the darkest and lets just 3% to 8% of the light through. These are very dark, like ski goggles, and must be labelled as unsuitable for driving.
How can I be sure that my sunglasses are suitable for driving in?
When bought in a shop, the sunglasses should have a label on the arm which has the category marked.
When shopping online, most websites will let you filter sunglasses by what you will be using them for so it’s important you tick the ‘driving’ box. When choosing a tint it will then tell you whether they’re suitable or not.
If you wear Photochromic glasses that respond to ultraviolet light, be aware if you drive a convertible as once the roof is down the glasses will darken, but at their darkest they still allow about 20% of light through, putting them around category 2 or 3. They will also stay dark for quite a while if you drive into a tunnel or underpass.
Rule 237 of the Highway Code states: “If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop.”