Five easy steps to choosing the best sunglasses for driving
We are officially one week into the wonderful British summer and, so far, it’s been a mixed bag of very heavy rain and sweltering humidity, with the odd patch of sunshine thrown in.
When the sun does make an appearance, and you decide to dash off to the seaside or park for the day, you’re going to need a great pair of sunglasses for the drive. They’ll shield your eyes from glare, while keeping out harmful rays and making the road ahead much clearer.
But, you can’t just grab a cheap pair from the bargain basement and expect them to do well. Oh no, you need to put some time and thought into it. So to help, here’s our five step plan to choosing the best summer driving sunglasses.
Step 1: Lens colour
Choosing the right lens colour can make all the difference to how well you see when you’re driving in bright sunshine. Luckily, there’s been lots of research into the subject, so we’re happy to tell you that there are four tint colours you should consider for glasses you intend to use for driving:
Brown/amber – a classic colour and for good reason. The reddish element of amber shades allows for better depth perception and enhances contrast too. And, they’re great for variable weather conditions, so the sunshine/shower combination is taken care of.
Yellow – yellowish hues are often included in sunglasses made specifically for drivers and for good reason. Yellow enhances definition and contrast. (And they’re also great for driving by streetlight at night too.)
Grey – another common colour for sunglasses and another great choice, as grey reduces eye fatigue, which can be a real issue on roads with sun glare. Grey also helps keep glare off water to a minimum too, while keeping true colour perception.
Rose – this is a great weather all-rounder, meaning it improves depth perception and enhances contrast in all conditions. So they’re great for weather that’s changing from sunny to cloudy and back again. But, make sure they have a 'safe for driving' label. And, of course, there’s the benefit of seeing the world through rose tinted specs too!
(extra little tip – choose a graduated tint if you can. This allows you to see the instrument panel much better.)
Step 2: Tint
Now that you’ve chosen which colour of lens you want, next it’s time to think about the level of tint you need. Tints are rated on a scale of 0-4, with 0 being no tint and 4 being very dark. The higher the class of tint applied to the lens, the darker it is, which allows less light into your eyes. But, don’t think that just choosing a category four tint will be okay – it won’t. Actually you should be aiming for a category 2 (medium) or 3 (dark) for driving sunglasses.
Wondering how you’ll know the class of tint? The law states that all sunglasses should detail their tint class number on them, so it’s easy to find.
Step 3: Polarised lenses
This is another option you can choose which reduces glare quite dramatically, particularly the glare you get off water. So, if you’re off to the seaside for your summer hols, having polarized lenses could be ideal. They’re also a great choice for dampening the glare from the wet roads that follow summer thunder storms - and we’re having plenty of those at the moment.
Step 4: Lens coating
The last lens choice is to do with coatings. There’s no point doing all this choosing of the correct lens, if they’re just going to get scratched to pieces every time you put them down. And it’s the nature of sunglasses to be on and off, then on again. If they do get scratched, it’ll hinder your vision when driving, often increasing the amount of glare. So, it’s best to opt for an anti-scratch coating to keep your sunnies in sparkling condition.
You may also want to think about adding an anti-reflective coating to the lenses too. This keeps the light you don’t want out, but allows the light you do need in, helping to improve visibility. It also has the added benefit of making the lenses resistant to water and grease, so easier to keep clean.
Tip 5: Frame shape
Finally, the best bit – choosing frames. If you’re thinking you’ll just go for what looks cool, we’d ask that you think again, especially with the current liking for oversized frames. The main thing to keep in mind when you’re choosing a pair of frames for your driving sunglasses, is peripheral vision. This is what you see to your left and right, and at the top and bottom of your view, when you’re looking straight ahead.
So when you try on a pair of frames, think about whether you can see adequately from all angles. You do not want to give yourself blind spots.
Whilst this may seem a bit over the top, if you’re involved in an accident and it’s deemed that the deep arms on your oversized sunglasses may be to blame, you could find yourself in trouble.
Aviators are a good choice because they have thin arms and frames, meaning your view isn’t obscured.