This week, we received a question from Costa Blanca People reader, John Bevan, from Quesada.
John asked, “Is it true that drivers of open top cars must wear some sort of hat to protect them from the intense rays of the sun?”
The answer is, according to law, no, you don´t. In fact, there is a chance that wearing a hat would prove dangerous as if it is not worn correctly, the wind could catch it, and blow the hat away and this could then become a potential hazard to other road users, especially the most vulnerable such as cyclists. However, the likelihood of this happening is slim, it is still a potential risk.
Of course not talking legally, it does make sense to wear a hat in order to protect yourself from the sun and its damaging rays as you say, but it is not a legal requirement.
The question does open up other points for comment, however, regarding open top cars. As much as possible, the manufacturers of these vehicles design them to be as safe as cars with full roofs. They are often fitted with strengthened supports around the windscreen for example, and roll bars, although these are not often as clearly identifiable as those fitted in rally cars, for example, in commercially available vehicles they are often integral to the structure.
So long as we are positioned correctly, sat down, wearing our seatbelt in the correct manner, open top cars are usually perfectly safe. Like all vehicles, It is when we don´t follow the design and safety guidelines when things go wrong.
Sometimes, vehicle occupants are seen with their hands held up or out of the cars, on a rare occasion even standing. Only recently, a vehicle was observed driving along the N-332 with the passenger standing up. This was not an open top car but it had a sunroof. We don´t need to be so graphic as to describe the likely outcome if that vehicle was involved in a collision of some form. You must keep your extremities, arms, legs etc., well within the confines of the vehicle for the roll bars to provide protection.
On the subject of legs, it is an increasingly common sight to see passengers with their legs up and feet on the dashboard. This also occurs in all types of vehicles and seems to increase with the summer months. It is an extremely dangerous practice. It is also illegal. The legs and feet can obscure the driver´s view, but worse than that, in the event of a collision there are two very common injuries, both of which often result in such serious injuries, amputation is common.
In the event of a collision, the airbags are normally deployed. If a passenger´s legs are over these airbags they will feel the full force of that deployment, which normally results in fractures to the legs, sometimes pelvic damage. If airbags do not deploy it is easy for the body to be thrown forward, underneath the seatbelt, an action known as submarining. This forces the body, feet first, like a torpedo through the windscreen, resulting in severe lacerations, often accompanied by fractures.
The only safe way to sit in any vehicle is within the design of the seat, with seatbelt securely fastened. You can read more about this on the n332.es website where we have a number of articles explaining in more detail.