Sun Glare as a Factor in Car Accidents

January 15th, 2016 by Patrick Hogan

Despite the fact that causes of dangerous driving and car accidents such as alcohol, speed, or carelessness are most often focused upon, police note that sun glare is often responsible for accidents, particularly at times of the year when the sunset and sunrise coincide with rush hour, such as Fall and Spring. Although California traffic officials do not break out sun glare as a specific cause of accidents or fatalities, places that do, such as the United Kingdom, register high figures. Britain estimates that approximately 36 deaths and over 3,000 accidents annually can be attributed to sun glare.

The likelihood of accidents further increases when cities are laid out in an east-west or north-south grid, as San Francisco and many other cities are. This means that drivers can be directly facing the sun just as glare becomes extreme.

Given this, law enforcement officials recommend using cautionary techniques dedicated to avoiding sun glare. These include:

Keep your windshield clean both inside and out. Dirt or film on the windshield exacerbates glare.

  • Wear polarized sunglasses.
  • Use the sun visor in your vehicle
  • Change your route at specifically dangerous times of the year, to avoid directly facing the sun.
  • Keep sufficient space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to allow ample time to react.
  • Don’t use high-gloss dashboard cleaners that have an extremely reflective shine.
  • Don’t use window cleaners that may leave streaks that refract sunlight, making it difficult to see.
  • Recognize that pedestrians might not realize that sun glare is an issue, and exercise special caution if you are facing the sun and driving where pedestrians are walking.

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