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Adam Jolley

Drivers at increased risk of sun damage


The message to cover up couldn't be more critical this summer as new research reveals the dangers of sun exposure while driving.

Man driving on a sunny day

Over a quarter of UK drivers have suffered from sunburn while on the road, a 2016 study by shows.

However, over half of motorists admitted they're entirely unaware that their skin can get sun damaged while inside the car - even with the windows closed.

Despite the risks, one driver in seven – equivalent to 14% - said they’ve stuck their arm or another body part out of the car window to achieve a bronzed look.

A ‘white-van tan’

This not only poses a danger to themselves but to other road users, according to the findings. 

Almost a third of these sun worshippers have had an accident or near miss as a result of their desire to catch a better tan.  

Meanwhile, many drivers are clearly either overdoing their exposure to the sun or failing to apply an SPF. Almost one in five of all motorists admit to having got a red arm while travelling. 

This has been dubbed the ‘white-van tan’, as the right arm on the window while driving is a pose commonly associated with white-van drivers. 

White van driver

81% of drivers aren’t concerned

The research found that half of all drivers spent between 1–2 hours per day in their cars. 

It follows, then, that regular drivers could be at increased risk of skin damage due to prolonged sun exposure, especially during the summer months. 

Despite the perils, a large majority - 81% - of people say they've never been concerned about the fact that skin damage can be caused while travelling in a car on a sunny day. 

In order to highlight the risks, and leading skin cancer charity Melanoma UK teamed up to raise awareness of skin damage to the right side of the body while driving in the sunshine. 

Drivers tested for sun damage

According to leading dermatologist Dr Christian Aldridge, a representative from Melanoma UK, glass – like clouds - does not protect you from UV radiation. 

These harmful sun rays can still pass through closed car windows, putting motorists at risk of asymmetrical sun damage. 

To showcase how the sun can affect drivers, and Melanoma UK tested the skin of British drivers – comparing the right side of their face, shoulders and arms to the left which is shaded when driving.

Dr Christian Aldridge carried out an in-depth skin examination on individuals using UV photo technology to pick up on areas of sun damage not visible to the naked eye.

‘Be alert to the full dangers of the sun’

Motoring Editor of, Amanda Stretton, says: “In the UK we all spend so much time complaining about the weather.

"But being alert to the full dangers of the sun when driving can help reduce skin damage. 

“It was especially shocking to learn that almost a third of drivers nearly had an accident as a result of sticking their arms or other body part out of the car window to catch a tan. 

“It's important not to be reckless when driving and to focus on the road ahead rather than the sunshine.”


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