As we get into the colder months of the year, the days get shorter and driving with sun glare becomes more of a problem. During the winter months, many Pittsburgh area commuters travel to work when the sun is rising and come home when the sun is setting. If their job requires them to travel east for a significant distance in the morning and west in the late afternoon, then there is a good chance that they will be dealing with blinding sunlight. This increases the risk of a vehicle accident.
Sun glare accidents are not talked about very often in the media, but bright sunlight causes or contributes to thousands of auto accidents every year. In fact, a comprehensive 10-year study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that bright sunlight was a factor in approximately one-third of all auto crashes with injuries that occur during daytime hours.
According to the study:
Bright sunlight is associated with an increased risk of a life-threatening motor vehicle crash. An awareness of this risk might inform driver education, trauma staffing, and safety warnings to prevent a life-threatening motor vehicle crash.
The authors of the study also point out that “safe driving relies on vision…visual illusions, however, predispose healthy people to recurrent mistakes when judging size, position, and motion.”
Sun glare is not only capable of creating visual illusions. At its brightest, it can produce glare-induced blindness. And even if blinding sunlight persists for only a few seconds while driving, it can cause drivers to miss important details on the road, such as a vehicle pulling up alongside them or a pedestrian trying to cross the road in front of them.
Who is to Blame in a Sun Glare Accident?
When a driver gets into an accident that happened because they were blinded by sunlight, they might think that they can escape liability by blaming the accident on an “act of God”. Sun glare is a circumstance beyond a driver’s control, after all, so how can you blame them if an accident occurs because of bright sunlight?
This is not a valid defense, however, because sun glare is not an unexpected occurrence that would be comparable to something like an earthquake or a deer running out in front of the car. Motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution to protect themselves and others on the road, and part of this duty is to drive safely even during adverse conditions.
Bright sunlight is definitely something that is predictable and not too difficult for drivers to prepare for. The sun rises and sets at roughly the same time every day, and if there is any doubt about the exact time that this will happen, all someone needs to do is look at a weather report.
Tips to Help You Avoid Sun Glare Accidents
Although bright sunlight is unavoidable at times, there are some things that motorists can do to mitigate the hazards associated with sun glare when they are driving:
- Clear Your Windshield: You always want to be driving with a windshield that is clear and free of grime and dust. Be sure your windshield is clean before each trip. In addition, always have enough washer fluid available when you drive. Finally, replace your wiper blades if they are worn and leaving streaks on your windshield.
- Turn Your Lights On: Always keep your headlights on when there is bright sunlight present. This will help ensure that oncoming cars can see you, even if they are dealing with blinding sun glare.
- Keep Your Distance: Always drive at a safe speed and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. This will give you more time to adjust if you suddenly get hit with blinding sunlight.
- Protect Your Eyes: Wear polarized sunglasses when driving in sun glare and use the visors in the car to keep the glare out as much as possible.
- Adjust Your Route: While this may not be possible for everyone, if you are able, take an alternate route that minimizes the amount of time that you are driving east or west (depending on the time of the day). You might also want to consider leaving for work a little earlier and/or coming home a little later to avoid peak brightness.
Injured in a Sun Glare Accident? Contact Our Experienced Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyers
Following best safety practices can help you avoid a sun glare accident, but unfortunately, you cannot control the actions of others on the road. If you or a loved one got hurt in an auto accident that was caused by someone else, Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is here to help! Call us at 412-567-1232 or toll-free at 866-466-5789 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.