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Friday, 31 October 2014

Bright sun? Does the rule work?

Rule 93 of the Highway Code tells drivers and motor cyclists: Slow down and if necessary stop if you are dazzled by bright sunlight.

Pretty self evident common sense I would have thought. I doubt if there are many, if any, drivers who just continue driving while being blinded. It would need someone incredibly brave as well as insane to the point of suicidal to drive blind. So is this rule necessary?

The story that raises this question is about two drivers who struck and eventually killed a cyclist, having said they were blinded by bright sunlight, and both were acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving. See more on this here

This is one of these, cast in stone, rules where we accept that, if you break it, you are automatically guilty of an offence.

But how realistic is Rule 93?

For a start it cannot be policed or proved unless a driver admits or says that he was blinded by sunlight. It depends totally on drivers incriminating themselves after an accident. And it is only after terrible accidents that the rule is cited in careless or dangerous driving cases. So is that all this rule is for? To be able to point fingers of prosecution after accidents have happened? If so, it's a bad rule for bad reasons. A loop hole covering rule. 'I was blinded by bright sunlight officer'. 'Thanks I am arresting you'. Here's a classic example

But it is also an unrealistic rule because sunlight and being blinded is often momentary and if we jammed our brakes on every instance of it, it would actually cause accidents. But it's not at all unusual for the brightness to be simultaneous with rounding a bend or coming over a hill at where, in either case, there is also a cyclist or stationary vehicle in the road too. Here you will see it's not theory. So the rule isn't at all realistic and the situation it is meant to address, isn't as clear cut as to justify a conviction; especially a term of imprisonment by citing it. Thank God another jury sees sense.

It may well be that the rule is a bad one, intended only to aid a prosecution after an accident its only practical use, but if it is giving road users the impression that they are safer with the rule to protect them then that makes it very dangerous because clearly it cannot cover most instances of commonly being blinded whilst driving.

We would be better with no rule at all than a bad one that doesn't work.

Cyclists, walkers and horse riders. If you're riding into the sun, so are the drivers coming up behind you. Just keep that in mind.

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