Wide temples and driving safety?
July 2, 2012 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Can the wide temple arms on some styles of glasses interfere with driving safely?

I am about to learn to drive, and just acquired new glasses (specifically, these frames) for that purpose. Now that I have them, however, I'm second-guessing myself--the side temple arms are wider than I remembered them (about 7/16 inches at the front, tapering to the back), and I'm worried that they'll block enough of my peripheral vision that I'll miss vehicles at the side of my vision and thus crash into someone. Is this as much of a concern as it seems to me?

(I am legally allowed to drive without glasses at all, and indeed have not been wearing glasses for several years. The correction is primarily for depth perception, however, and I was thinking that true depth perception would be an important thing to have for this purpose! But is it more important than the lost peripheral vision?)
posted by beryllium to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total)
For what a single datapoint is worth, I used to wear glasses like those and didn't find it a problem when driving.
posted by tinymegalo at 11:55 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

So, here's the thing. If you're relying on data from just moving your eyes left and right, rather than your whole head, you're going to miss something anyway. This is exactly why you're taught to turn your head around when checking the left lane before merging, or when reversing, or checking both ways before crossing, etc.

If you aren't looking through your glasses, you just aren't looking.

It's a lovely little conversation you end up establishing (hopefully) with yourself, that should end up going something like this:

- Ok check that lane
- Checked it..
- Did you REALLY check it
- I mean I totally glanced ov..
- Fine. Let's go.
posted by odinsdream at 12:00 PM on July 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

I'm second-guessing myself--

Yes, you are.

the side temple arms are wider than I remembered them (about 7/16 inches at the front, tapering to the back), and I'm worried that they'll block enough of my peripheral vision that I'll miss vehicles at the side of my vision and thus crash into someone. Is this as much of a concern as it seems to me?

No, it isn't. It might potentially be if you never, ever moved or turned your head while behind the wheel, but as mentioned the least of your problems if you did that would be your glasses.

Relax. Read up on correctly aligned mirrors and shoulder checking and the things that actually matter, not size of eyeglass frames.
posted by Brockles at 12:05 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're fine. Think of the massive sunglasses people wear

Also: driving is crazy easy, look at all the idiots that do it with no major incidents
posted by Patbon at 12:08 PM on July 2, 2012

I have both glasses with heavy temples and more conventional styles. The big temple pieces definitely block a little more peripheral vision, mostly noticeable on the highway as it's a little harder to tell when cars are in the blind spots (e.g., the red car here).

It's not a big deal, but driving in the middle lane in tight traffic at 60 mph I appreciate having a better sense of where the other vehicles are.
posted by exogenous at 12:13 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think so and don't wear sunglasses made like that driving for that very reason.
posted by fshgrl at 12:15 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with @Exogenous; I have Big Clunky Black Nerd Glasses, and I always prefer to wear a thinner temple arms when I can. When I wear the above BCBNG, I always have to tilt my head up or down a wee bit to see the lane next to me.
Maybe it's me, maybe it's the glasses, but there you go.
posted by THAT William Mize at 12:26 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've got glasses with similar width arms, and they don't bother me as I make it a point to turn my head when looking. Heck, my husband is blind on one side and drives just fine, and that blocks way more of his vision than frames would. He swivels his head a lot more than your average person does, but that's to be expected.

Also, my wide frames don't block as much of my peripheral vision as you might think. If I hold my hand out at arms length directly to the side and look askance at it, the frames block a strip about the width of my palm. Not unobstructed, but since I know it's there, I can move my head to compensate.
posted by telophase at 12:38 PM on July 2, 2012

I have some similar frames. When I first got them last summer I absolutely noticed a difference in my ability to do a quick shoulder check while driving. I was able to adjust the manner in which I look back and it's fine now.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:59 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had this experience last year and got rid of my wide armed glasses for just that very reason. My peripheral vision was greatly affected to the negative.
posted by Mr.Me at 1:30 PM on July 2, 2012

I have a number of different pairs of glasses, including these wider-armed ones, and did not think about this until just now (and remain unworried). And I only relatively recently learned to drive, so I'm pretty...aware, of driving whatnot and what does and does not impair my abilities there. +1 turning head, not just moving eyes.
posted by kmennie at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2012

If you aren't looking through your glasses, you just aren't looking.
I disagree. I don't just move my head when checking the next lane, I also move my eyes far enough to the side that there is no lens left to be looking through. I've removed sunglasses before because they blocked my peripheral vision. When I wore regular glasses, they were very thin armed and did not cause a problem.

You are going to have to test them out to see how badly they affect your peripheral vision.
posted by soelo at 2:17 PM on July 2, 2012

Dangerous not just in the car but out of it too, anywhere you don't want to be surprised by things coming up beside you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:04 PM on July 2, 2012

I have found that wide temples DO cause visual obstruction. This is especially true when I need to do a tricky maneuver that involved backing up.
posted by fifilaru at 3:31 PM on July 2, 2012

You need to check the vehicle laws in your state. Here's an example from California:
23120. No person shall operate a motor vehicle while wearing glasses having a temple width of one-half inch or more if any part of such temple extends below the horizontal center of the lens so as to interfere with lateral vision.

Added Ch. 531, Stats. 1959.
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:28 PM on July 2, 2012

I now switch my sunglasses from RayBan style to aviators for driving for just this reason: last summer I changed lanes after careful looking and had to do a mad swerve because there was a car coming up on my left that was blocked by my sunnie's temple arms.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:13 PM on July 2, 2012

Thank you for all of the answers! At this point (although I wish that I had posted this AskMe before ordering!), I think I'll plan on doing everything I can to compensate for increased blind spots (at least I'll build especially vigilant driving habits!), and then replace them if I continue to be concerned.

exphysicist345 also has an excellent point. I haven't found evidence of states other than California that have such a law (I'm in NY)--but it's telling that they have one. I would love to know if there are any studies (e.g., correlating accident rates with glasses width) that would justify it.
posted by beryllium at 5:13 PM on July 2, 2012

I had a pair of glasses that I stopped wearing while biking for this very reason. I didn't notice the effect as strongly while driving but I bet it was there.
posted by mskyle at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2012

You asked this ages ago, but just to add my voice to the chorus of people saying it is a problem. I can't wear my (lovely, attractive) wide armed glasses to drive or cycle in because they exactly block where it is most useful to see objects in my peripheral vision. I bought another pair of glasses to get around this.
posted by kadia_a at 12:39 PM on July 13, 2012

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