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Pulling the Shades

Claim:   Wearing sunglasses while driving in the rain will improve vision.

PARTLY TRUE

Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, June 2009]

GOOD VISION IN A DOWNPOUR

How to achieve good vision while driving during a heavy downpour. I can vouch for this!!

We are not sure why it is so effective; just try this method when it rains heavily. This method was told by a Police friend who had experienced and confirmed it.

It is useful... even driving at night. Most of the motorists would turn on HIGH or FASTEST SPEED of the wipers during heavy downpour, yet the visibility in front of the windscreen is still bad...

In the event you face such a situation, just try your SUN GLASSES (any model will do), and miracle! All of a sudden, your visibility in front of your windscreen is perfectly clear, as if there is no rain.

Make sure you always have a pair of SUN GLASSES in your car, as you are not only helping yourself to drive safely with good vision, but also might save your friend's life by giving him this idea.

Try it yourself and share it with your friends!
 

[Collected via e-mail, July 2011]

SAFE-TIPS WHEN IT IS RAINING!

GOOD VISION IN A DOWNPOUR

How to achieve good vision while driving during a heavy downpour. We are not sure why it is so effective; just try this method when it rains heavily. This method was told by a Police friend who had experienced and confirmed it. It is useful... even driving at night.

Most of the motorists would turn on HIGH or FASTEST SPEED of the wipers during heavy downpour, yet the visibility in front of the windshield is still bad....

In the event you face such a situation, just put on your SUNGLASSES (any model will do), and miracles! All of a sudden, your visibility in front of your windshield is perfectly clear, as if there is no rain.

Make sure you always have a pair of SUNGLASSES in your car. You are not only helping yourself to drive safely with good vision, but also might save your friend's life by giving him this idea.. Try it yourself and share it with your friends!!!!

Amazingly, you still see the drops on the windshield, but not the sheet of rain falling. You can see where the rain bounces off the road. It works to eliminate the "blindness" from passing cars. Or the "kickup" if you are following a car in the rain.

They ought to teach this little tip in driver's training.. It really does work. This is a good warning. I wonder how many people knew about this???
 

Variations:   In July 2010, a version began circulating that combined the "sunglasses in the rain" piece with the admonition against engaging cruise control on wet roads.

Origins:   Our first sighting of this Internet-circulated piece of advice dates to August 2006. While not everything claimed in the item is true, its central claim about driving in the rain while wearing sunglasses is.

Wearing polarized sunglasses when driving in the rain during the day will help a driver see better. Polarized sunglasses work to block 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.
Last updated:   2 August 2011

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Sources:

    Cichowski, John.   "Headlight Glare Can Throw You For a Loop."
    The Record.   23 September 2009   (p. L1).

    Cichowski, John.   "For Clearer Vision, Go and Buy a Newspaper."
    The Record.   1 November 2009   (p. L1).