Best Sunglasses for Driving: Find Something For All Your Style and Safety Needs
The best sunglasses for driving that can change your whole driving experience
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BY Kristin Hitchcock / LAST UPDATED ON May 10, 2019
Driving relies largely on sight. If you can't see, you can't drive, at least not safely. But when the sun is low in the sky on the way home from work, many people have trouble seeing where they're going. Luckily, driving sunglasses can help combat this problem so you can drive safely. Of course, not all driving sunglasses are the same. When your safety depends on it, it is essential that you get the best of the best. To help you choose the right sunglasses, we’ve put together this guide featuring some of the best driving sunglasses available.
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Benefits of Sunglasses for Driving
- See properly. Sunglasses for driving around have one main job: They help us see in the daylight. While you won't always need sunglasses to drive, they're definitely a must-have on those sunny, early morning drives. No matter how resistant your eyes are to the sun, sunglasses can improve driving viewability.
- Drive in comfort. No one likes looking directly into the sun. Sadly, depending on the time of the day, looking at the road might just mean looking at the sun! A pair of sunglasses designed for driving can help your eyes stay comfortable.
- Protect your eyes. Just like our skin, our eyes also need to be protected from the sun. Sunglasses can help reduce eye strain and protect the eyes when facing the sun while driving.
Types of Sunglasses for Driving
Wayfarers were first introduced by Ray-Ban in the 1950s. This type of sunglasses features a trapezoidal frame, which is unique to this style. Because they are usually made out of plastic, these sunglasses are often very lightweight.
This popular type of sunglasses was first given to military pilots to help protect their eyes from the sun. Since then, they have become increasingly popular and are one of the most common types of sunglasses today. The teardrop shape of the lenses prevents light from entering at all angles, which can be helpful while driving. Many variants of this type also exist with slightly different lens shapes.
The cat eye sunglasses are almost exclusively worn by women, though there are some styles out there for men as well. These sunglasses feature lenses that are pointed along the outside edge, much like a cat eye.
This is a very common style that is utilized by many for practical reasons. They are most common among the military, bodyguards, and other outdoor professions. The clean and minimal lines are also very stylish and are becoming increasingly popular.
Round sunglasses are a vintage style that is making a comeback. While these sunglasses usually don't help block the sun much, they are chosen by many due to their style. In some cases, you will find driving sunglasses in this design, though it is rare.
Shield sunglasses wrap around the wearers head. This feature makes them popular for outdoor sports and other activities where normal sunglasses might fall off. The goggle-like design helps provide maximum coverage from the sun, making them very useful as driving glasses.
Rimless sunglasses are a relatively new style that is very minimalistic. The frame is mostly hidden or non-existent. This design is smaller and thinner than most, however, so they don’t do much to help your vision.
This sunglasses manufacturer was founded in 1980 in Hawaii; it is currently based in Illinois, however. In 2015, it was the largest sunglasses manufacturer in the world. It sells over 135 different pairs of sunglasses and has its own polarization technology called PolarizedPlus2. Its Makaha unisex glasses are particularly popular.
This company primarily produces eyewear and is currently owned by the Bushnell Corporation. It was originally founded in 1984 and was bought by the Bushnell Corporation in 2000. It produces and develops a number of technologies related to eye protection, including polarized lenses. People seem to particularly like its Aviators sunglasses.
Oakley is owned by the Luxottica Group and is currently based in California. It produces a variety of different products, including sunglasses, backpacks, and even shoes. Currently, it holds over 600 patents. Originally, it was founded by James Jannard in 1975 and started by producing a special type of motorcycle grip. The name "Oakley" was also the name of Jannard's dog. Oakley is specifically known for its Holbrook Iridium Sport Sunglasses.
Sunglasses for Driving Pricing
- Under $50: Any pair of sunglasses under $50 are typical "knock-offs." They are not produced by a major brand and are usually only designed for style purposes. They are rarely polarized or designed for UV protection. They are also normally made of plastic, lenses included.
- $50 - $150: In this range, sunglasses often come with tinted or even polarized lenses, which is nearly impossible to find with cheaper sunglasses. They are also made of high-quality materials, such as acetate.
- Over $150: These sunglasses typically have all the features of the moderately-priced options with a few more add-ons. They might be made with new, more effective polarization technology, or they might just be bigger. The more material a pair of sunglasses has, the more expensive they will be.
It is essential to purchasing a pair of sunglasses that are made with high-quality material. For driving, your average plastic glasses just aren't going to cut it. Instead, choose sunglasses that are made of a suitable metal or high-quality plastic.
Sunglasses should protect your eyes, plain and simple. Preferably, a pair of sunglasses should have a UV-protection rating of 100 percent. Otherwise, they aren't protecting your eyes properly. You should also ensure that the pair of sunglasses you purchase protects from UVB and UVA rays. Just because a pair of glasses says "100-percent UV protection" doesn't mean they protect from both kinds of UV rays.
The bigger the lenses, the more light they will block. Lenses that don't cover your whole eye area aren't going to block all the light coming in. For this reason, we recommend choosing sunglasses with larger lenses for driving.
Polarized sunglasses are designed to eliminate glare caused by bright, shiny surfaces. A lot of car accidents are caused by glare, so this is an important feature for most driving sunglasses. Still, not everyone benefits from polarized lenses. Some car displays are difficult to read through polarized lenses.
- Comfort: Some sunglasses are more comfortable than others. The material, fit, and weight all factor into how comfortable the sunglasses are. While comfort might not be a huge deal if you only commute ten minutes to work every day, it can be essential if you plan on wearing these sunglasses a lot.
- Durability: Much like comfort, how durable a pair of sunglasses depends on a variety of factors. The materials are perhaps the biggest factor. However, weight and craftsmanship can play a large role as well.
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- Tinted lenses can distort colors and make driving difficult in some cases. They can make it difficult to see red lights clearly or notice emergency vehicles. We recommend selecting sunglasses with either a grey, green, or yellow tint for driving.
- Sunglasses shouldn't be too dark, or you’ll risk not getting enough light to drive safely. The sunglasses you wear to the beach are not necessarily the ones you should wear while driving.
- Polarized lenses can make it difficult to read certain car displays. Your car’s manual should tell you the type of display your car comes equipped with, allowing you to figure out whether or not polarized lenses are the best choice for you.
Q: Are polarized lenses good for driving?
A: In many cases, yes. Polarized lenses help block glare, which is a major component to many car crashes. They help you see more clearly, even when you're driving into the sun. However, they can also interfere with some car dashboard displays, particularly if they are LED displays. This is because the displays release light in a similar way to glare.
Q: What are the best sunglasses lenses for driving?
A: Some tinted lenses can interfere with seeing important colors while driving. Because of this, we recommend selecting green, gray, or yellow spectrum lenses (like brown, yellow, and copper) for your driving sunglasses.
Out of all the driving sunglasses we reviewed, the Maui Jim Peahi Rectangular Sunglasses were by far the best due to their high-quality lenses and construction. However, Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses were also quite good and cheaper. They feature extra flexibility and a surprisingly comfortable fit.