Wearing night driving glasses is considered safe?
Experts suggest that yellow lenses should not be worn when driving at night as they do not reduce the amount of glare from headlights.
In darker driving conditions, time changes each autumn mean that road-users may struggle to see or be seen, and some may be concerned about the dazzling effect of headlights at night.
The increase in darkness each day, up to nine hours, may inspire you to consider purchasing night driving glasses, easily available online, which are claimed to reduce the glare from oncoming headlights.
Several Which? members mentioned using such glasses in their responses when we asked about bright car headlights.
According to the experts, night driving glasses can actually make visibility worse. The problem is how they work, and we explain what you can do to make driving at night more safe.
How bright should car headlights be?
According to RAC research for 2022, 63% of drivers reported more glare from oncoming headlights than a year or two before, and some even avoided driving at night.
In 2019, 273 collisions were reported in which headlight dazzle was a contributing factor, resulting in 84 serious injuries and five fatalities. RoSPA (the Royal Society for Accident Prevention) receives many inquiries concerning headlight dazzle.
However, the RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis says: ‘The truth is we need the government to investigate the topic properly.’ According to the Department for Transport, there is no evidence to suggest there exists an underlying road safety problem with modern vehicle lighting.
There are a number of reasons why headlight glare is on the rise, including the following:
There has been an increase in the brightness of bulbs
The standard headlight bulb for many older cars is the yellow light, which is a halogen bulb, while the standard headlight bulb for new cars is usually a bluish-white LED/xenon/HID bulb.
Despite the fact that these newer bulbs can help improve a driver’s night time vision, they can also reduce visibility for other road users who may be approaching the vehicle.
If you would like to know more about the various types of car headlight bulbs available, you can read our article explaining the types of car headlight bulbs available and how to select them.
In recent years, cars have become taller
Researchers have found that the increasing popularity of SUVs and other taller vehicles is also creating problems for motorists, especially if they drive a hatchback, saloon or estate.
Unlike a Vauxhall Astra, which stands approximately 1.44 metres tall, or a Mazda MX5, which stands 1.25 metres high, a Range Rover Evoque stands 1.65 metres high.
According to the RAC research, more than half of drivers were temporarily blinded during a nighttime drive due to SUVs, either from oncoming traffic or from behind.
The headlights have been adjusted incorrectly
You should adjust the angle of your headlights, if necessary, and ensure that their alignment is regularly checked (either by yourself or by a mechanic).
In the event that your headlights are misaligned they may cause blind spots or poor visibility of the road. In the event that they are misaligned they may also blind the driver in front of you or those driving ahead of you if they are too low or too high.
It is important to note that either of these issues may result in your car failing its MOT or even causing an accident.
Glare can be exacerbated by certain eye conditions
It is possible for some eye conditions to cause “disability glare”, a phenomenon in which a bright source of light makes it difficult to see objects well. This can lead to increased chances of car accidents, even though it is not uncomfortable.
As we age, many people suffer from conditions such as cataracts, which cause glare at night. According to Edward Fox, dispensing optician at the Association of British Dispensing Opticians.
According to the RAC, there was a greater complaint about headlight glare among younger drivers – 30% of drivers aged 17-34 believed their headlights were too bright, compared to 17% of drivers aged 65 and older.
The problem with night driving glasses
There is a distinct yellow tint to the lenses of night driving glasses sold online.
A yellow lens is thought to reduce nighttime road visibility and reduce the glare from oncoming headlights by blocking blue light, such as that emitted by LED or HID headlights.
A small study published in 2019 found that yellow-tinted glasses were neither effective at reducing glare nor improving the visibility of pedestrians, which led researchers to state that eye care specialists should not recommend them.
There is a wide range of yellow-lens glasses for sale online, some of which claim to ‘solve’ the problem of glare from high beams. These glasses are often being marketed online as ‘night vision for driving’ or ‘anti-glare’ or ‘night driving’ glasses.
In addition, according to Edward Fox, an optical specialist, colored lenses of any kind will make dark areas of the road appear darker at night, which is why they should not be worn on the road.
Yellow-tinted lenses may improve contrast for people with certain eye diseases that reduce contrast sensitivity. However, they should only be used during bright daylight hours. To ensure they are suitable for your requirements, it is best to speak with a dispensing optician rather than purchase them off the shelf.
Is there a lens that can be used at night?
It is the opinion of the Automobile Association that driving lenses must meet two essential criteria, namely maintaining clear vision and allowing sufficient light to reach your eyes.
Speak to your dispensing optician before wearing your glasses at night.
If your prescription lenses have an antireflective coating, you may be able to reduce glare. These coatings have a very faint green or blue hue and are designed to absorb and redirect light reflected from your lenses.
In any case, this is only applicable to individuals who already require prescription eyeglasses. According to Edward Fox, non-prescription glasses with anti-glare coating may actually worsen the condition because the addition of a lens will result in a greater reflection of light.
Driving in the dark: six tips for safety
If night driving is becoming difficult, you should schedule an eye examination as soon as possible. Edward Fox advises: ‘The first thing to do is to schedule an eye exam.’ Your optician may be able to assist you with this by suggesting anti-glare or anti-reflection coatings on your lenses as a means of addressing any health conditions that could be contributing to your light sensitivity.
The rear-view mirror should be adjusted when it is dark. Although some cars have tinted rear windows or self-dimming mirrors, most require the driver to adjust the mirror himself when it is dark. By doing so, the glare from the rear-view mirror can be lessened.
Check your car’s manual for directions on how to adjust the angle of your headlights if you’re being dazzled, since you may be dazzling others as well. Especially if you’re driving an unusually heavy load, your headlights may be dazzling other drivers.
As a general rule, you should keep a safe distance from other vehicles while driving. Our ability to judge distances between objects – also known as depth perception – falls short during the dark hours, so it is important to leave more distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you when driving at night.
It may take a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Instead of jumping into your car and driving away as soon as it becomes dark, allow yourself a few minutes to adapt.
If in doubt, you should slow down or stop. The Highway Code states that in the event you are dazzled by the headlights of oncoming vehicles, you should slow down and if necessary stop.