For many drivers, the worst times of day to be behind the wheel are when the sun is rising and setting. Having the sun in your eyeline can be blinding, even with sunglasses. In fact, when the sun is too low for the visor to block it out, a driver may experience temporary blindness. They may be unable to see vehicles around them or signals, signs and intersections ahead of them.
It’s not known precisely how many crashes are caused by sun glare here in the U.S. However, the Automobile Association (AA) in the United Kingdom estimates that more than 2,900 crashes every year on their roads are caused by glare.
Unfortunately, we can’t always avoid encountering sun glare. Some of the worst times are around Daylight Saving Time when we suddenly find ourselves driving to or from work while the sun is at a different point than we’re used to. However, a new route or change in routine can cause us to encounter glaring sun any time of year.
Let’s look at some strategies for staying safe when your vision (and that of the drivers around you) is compromised by sun glare:
Slow down: A good rule of thumb is to drive at about the same speed you would if you encountered thick fog or a rainstorm. This will give you time to react if there’s something ahead of you that you couldn’t see.
Don’t tailgate: In fact, put a little extra distance than usual between your car and the one ahead of you. That way, if the other driver suddenly hits the brakes, you have time to slow or stop without hitting them (or the person behind you hitting you).
Adjust your route: If you’re not able to vary your work schedule or other routine to avoid driving into the sun, you may be able to find a route where you aren’t facing directly east or west for as much of your drive. A route where there are a lot of trees or tall buildings can also help you avoid sun glare.
Being blinded by the glaring sun doesn’t relieve someone of responsibility if they cause a crash. If you’ve been injured by an at-fault driver, make sure you get the compensation you need and are entitled to.