- Fashion-conscious female drivers are putting lives at risk -
Nearly 12 million* fashion-conscious female motorists could be putting themselves and other drivers at risk by wearing unsuitable sunglasses when behind the wheel, according to new research out today.
The 'Summer Driving Vision' report** from female-friendly car insurer, Sheilas' Wheels, shows that fewer than one in five (18%) women drivers chooses a pair of sunglasses specifically for driving. Three fifths (61%) say they opt for style over safety when buying summer shades' basing their choice on appearance instead of driving practicality.
The findings are backed by eye health charity, The Eyecare Trust, who Sheilas' Wheels commissioned to carry out an audit on some of this season's most fashionable high-street sunglasses.
Results from the audit reveal that many top fashion trends are unsuitable for driving. Wide-armed pairs, sported by the likes of Kylie Minogue and worn when driving by over a million women*** in the UK, are said to be dangerous because they can limit peripheral vision.
Furthermore, female motorists who choose pink or blue lenses could put themselves at risk as these tints can distort vision and make driving hazardous. The Eyecare Trust recommends drivers choose neutral lens colours that provide true colour definition such as grey or brown.
Very dark lenses that prevent full visibility - a problem the Sheilas' Wheels 'Summer Driving Vision' report shows affects almost one in ten (7%) British women - are also not recommended. And category 4 filter lenses, the darkest available, are illegal to wear when driving in the UK.
Niki Bolton, spokesperson for Sheilas' Wheels said: "Too many women drivers are unaware of the dangers of wearing some of this summer's hottest sunglasses' styles when driving. Wide arms and dark lens tints may be the must-haves of the moment, but fashion-conscious women should put safety ahead of style when in control of a car.
"We'd like to encourage all women to keep a sensible, practical pair of sunglasses for driving at hand in their glove box, free of scratches and smears. Wearing unsuitable sunglasses is just as dangerous as wearing none at all when driving in bright conditions."
The 'Summer Driving Vision' report also revealed that three quarters (74%) of women admitted to having worn no sunglasses when driving in bright light - which can seriously impair vision, lengthen reaction times and potentially cause accidents.
A fifth of women (19%) quizzed in the Sheilas' Wheels study said they had driven in sunglasses with dirty lenses, while a further 14% have been behind the wheel sporting scratched shades.
Rosie Gavzey, a trustee of The Eyecare Trust, added: "Visit your local optometrist for practical advice on choosing appropriate eyewear for driving. The lens colour, frame density, filter category and reflective coatings can all play a part in determining whether your sunglasses are roadworthy - or not!
"Look out for sunglasses carrying the CE or BS EN 1836:1997 marks to ensure they provide adequate UV protection. This is especially important if you are driving a convertible where your eyes are at greater risk of UV damage."
Results from Sheilas' Wheels and The Eyecare Trust Summer Sunglasses Audit are as follows:
Description: 'Small, dark and handsome'
Verdict: Great in bright sunlight but not suitable for driving. By law drivers' eyewear must allow more than eight per cent of the visible light to be transmitted through the lens.
These dark category four lenses do not transmit sufficient light, making them un-roadworthy.
Description: 'Pretty in pink'
Verdict: These slim-fitting, wide, open arms are good for 180-degree vision. However, drivers should beware of pink tinted lenses as these can distort colour vision making it tricky for motorists to decipher road signs and potential hazards.
Verdict: These are a good choice for drivers. Polarised lenses help to reduce harsh glare from strong sunlight and minimise reflections from wet or polished road surfaces. Just be careful if you're driving a very old car as polarised lenses can highlight stress lines in old windscreens and distract you.
The large aviator style lenses and slim arms offer unrestricted viewing - perfect for fashion-conscious drivers and Top Gun fans everywhere!
Description: 'Big, bold and beautiful'
Verdict: These chunky frames could pose a hazard when driving. The width of the plastic arms could potentially restrict the driver's peripheral vision.
These shades are not a wise choice for motorists who need good all-round vision and a visual range of at least 120 degrees.
Description: 'Pure and simple'
Verdict: These neutral tinted lenses provide more natural colour definition, making these sunglasses an excellent choice for driving.
The anti-reflective coating helps to minimise glare in bright conditions whilst the slim-fitting arms ensure the drivers' peripheral vision isn't compromised.
For further information on The Eyecare Trust's top ten tips for summer driving sunglasses, please visit: www.eyecare-trust.org.uk
- Ends -
For further information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact Jo Misson or Sam Holl at Teamspirit PR on 020 7438 9400.
Notes to editors:
*Source: Office of National Statistics, National Travel Survey 2004 (14.4 million women with driving licenses in UK x 82% of those that are potentially wearing incorrect eyewear for driving = 11,808,000 women).
**Sheilas' Wheels commissioned YouGov to speak to 766 female drivers during July 2007: 'Summer Driving Vision' report.
***Calculation: 14.4 million female drivers x 9% of women who have driven in wide-armed sunglasses = 1.296 million
Sheilas' Wheels: Sheilas' Wheels was launched in October 2005 to offer women drivers cheaper car insurance and product enhancements including £300 handbag cover - for bags stolen from the car (comprehensive cover only) - competitive breakdown recovery rates, a dedicated counselling line run by trained professionals to help customers cope with driving issues such as road rage (comprehensive cover only), and a network of female-friendly repairers. www.ilovesheilas.com
The Eyecare Trust:
The Eyecare Trust is a registered charity that exists to raise awareness of all aspects of eye health, the importance of regular eye care and the benefits of using quality eye wear. For more information log on to www.eyecare-trust.org.uk.