Travelling Safely

Travelling Safely by Car

It is helpful (maybe essential) to have a vehicle that protects from harmful daylight or artificial light.

Over the last ten years we have made more and more adaptations to our car. I would like to share with you what we have discovered, which first made the 100 mile journey we had to make to our closest hospital with a photobiology department seem almost like a "day out" - something we hadn't been able to enjoy for many years - and has since enabled us to visit friends and relations who live at a distance.

First it is necessary to screen all your car windows against UV with something like DermaGard. This must be done by an expert technician. It is not legally permissible to apply coloured film, or to darken the windscreen. (We are informed that windscreens are already UV proof and do not need any application of film). The front side windows can be darkened to some extent. Have the darkest film possible applied to the back side windows and to the back window. (If your reversing light(s) are not powerful enough to enable you to see through this easily at night, it is quite cheap to have extra reversing lights fitted.)

The real problem is stopping the light that comes through the front windows from reaching the light sensitive person on the back seat. For this we cut a piece of blackout curtain lining big enough to go from door-pillar to door-pillar, and from roof to floor - leaving enough space for the fronts seats to be pushed back as far as is needed! Velcro is sewed to the lining, and the other side of the Velcro is attached to the door pillars of the car with two-sided tape. You do not normally need to attach any to the ceiling, as the Velcro on the lining stuck to that quite adequately by itself.

If you do not need such a complete blackout, a simple solution is to sew two large elastic loops onto a foil windscreen protector, to fit onto the headrests of the two front seats. This is also very quick to remove and replace.

Some people will find that enough, and we do mostly for short trips. But for mid-summer and longer trips we put the sort of windscreen shade you buy for parked cars against the rear window, and extra commercial shades against the side windows. For long trips in summer, we simply shut a piece of heavy black plastic (rubble bag or agricultural sheeting) in the back doors, which effectively shuts out all light from coming through the side windows. (If you have a hatchback, you can also black out the rear window this way).

In the day-to-day use of the car the only things noticeable are the strips of Velcro down the inside of the door-pillars. When an extremely light-sensitive person needs to come too, the adjustments take about 5 minutes. Extreme? Restricting? 10 years ago we would have thought so. Now it means FREEDOM!