This ‘n That Tidbits – Info That Might Save Your Life

Did you know that wearing POLARIZED sunglasses when driving during a downpour during the day will help a driver see better? Polarized sunglasses work to block the horizontal components of scattered or reflected light, which means they help counteract the scattering of light that atmospheric effects like fog or rain have on daylight.

Notice, however, that this ability is limited to polarized sunglasses.Non-polarized lenses won’t do anything other than make the field of vision darker, which means wearing them while driving in the rain would increase the hazard, not reduce it.

One caveat though: Wearing polarized lenses while driving may make LCD dashboard displays quite a bit harder to read.
In a nutshell:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses when driving in rain during the day.   First and foremost, forget about driving in an absolute downpour — instead, get off the road and wait out the storm. However, during light to moderate rainfalls, polarized sunglasses will help the driver see more clearly.
  • Lenses must be polarized.   Despite the e-mail’s assertion that “any model will do,” non-polarized sunglasses will not improve clarity of vision in the rain. Indeed, they will make matters worse.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses when driving in fog during the day.   Get off the road and stay off the road when fog is heavy; but in light to moderate fogs and mists, polarized sunglasses will assist drivers in the same fashion that they do in light to moderate rains.
  • Don’t wear sunglasses while driving at night.   Although polarized sunglasses will help improve clarity of vision during the day in rain or fog, at night they will serve to reduce contrast and thus make a mess of the driver’s depth perception. This practice is foolhardy and dangerous.

Another interesting tidbit is that you should never engage your cruise control on slippery or wet roads — is well worth heeding. Snow, ice, slush, or even rain can cause wheel-spin and loss of control, situations to which drivers must react quickly. Although cruise control can generally be cut off by the driver’s simply tapping the brake pedal, the extra reaction time required for a motorist relying upon cruise control to recognize the danger of the situation when his wheels begins to spin or slide on a slippery surface, bring his foot up off the floor to the brake pedal, and disengage the cruise control can be crucial (especially for drivers lured into a hazardous level of inattentiveness on long, flat stretches of road).

According to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s web page of tips about driving on wet roads:

The only way to stop wheels from spinning and maintain control is to immediately reduce power. An activated cruise control system applies continuous power, keeping the wheels spinning. By the time you disengage the cruise control it may be too late – you may have already lost control.

I received an email from a dear friend with this information so naturally, being the curious type that I am, I confirmed the above with www.snopes.com and found the information reiterated above. So next time its pouring down rain or foggy – turn off the cruise control and slap on those polarized sunglasses!!!

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