It’s that time of the year again, when the days get shorter and the weather begins to get colder. During the fall and winter months, motorists also have additional driving challenges because of the increase in sun glare. At certain times of the season, the glare can be especially bad during morning and afternoon rush hour commutes.
We all know the feeling of near helplessness that comes upon us when we make a turn and encounter a blast of bright and blinding sunlight. Suddenly, it becomes very difficult to see much in front of you, and you can only hope and pray that you get to where you are going without hitting anything.
Sun glare contributes to hundreds or perhaps thousands of auto accidents each year. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number, because most police reports do not list the sun as the cause of an accident. One study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the dangers of bright sunlight could be far worse than most people realize.
The NIH study, which was performed over a 20-year period, looked at more than 11,000 life-threatening auto accidents that occurred between the years of 1995 and 2014. One of the most interesting findings from the study was the fact that bright sunlight was present in approximately one-third of all vehicle accidents that occurred during daylight hours. This would equate to tens of thousands of accidents in which sun glare might have played a role.
Liability in Sun Glare Accidents
If someone crashes their vehicle and it was caused by blinding sunlight obstructing their view, are they responsible for any resulting property damage and injuries? A driver may try to argue that the sun glare they had to deal with was an “act of God” and beyond their control. Unfortunately for them, this defense is not likely to hold up in a legal case.
It is true that bright sunlight is a natural occurrence that a vehicle driver cannot control. However, it is not considered to be in the same category as events like earthquakes, mudslides, lightning striking a tree, or animals dashing out in front of a vehicle.
The latter types of events are infrequent and unpredictable, and a motorist could reasonably argue that they could not have known that anything like that was coming. Sun glare, on the other hand, is very easy to anticipate.
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west every day, and all you need to do is check your weather forecast to know approximately what time your local sunrise and sunset is occurring. As such, preparing for sun glare would fall under a motorist’s duty to take reasonable measures to prevent harming others on the roadways.
Ways to Avoid Sun Glare Accidents
Although bright sunlight can be extremely difficult for drivers to deal with, there are some things that can be done to minimize the difficulties and ensure optimal safety as you travel:
- Clean Your Windshield: First of all, you do not want to make matters worse by having a windshield that is dirty or full of streaks. Before heading out, make sure your windshield is clean and that you have an adequate amount of windshield washer fluid. As we head into this season, you should also check out your windshield wipers to make sure they are in good working order or if they need to be replaced.
- Wear Protective Sunglasses: Sunglasses are a must when you are trying to drive in the face of bright sunlight, but the best kind to have on are polarized sunglasses. Consider picking up a pair so you will be ready for this season.
- Install Sun Visor Extenders: Always utilize your sun visors to block the sun (as much as possible) from coming in the front or side windows. You might also want to consider purchasing sun visor extenders that can provide further protection when dealing with sun glare.
- Slow Down: One very basic rule whenever you are dealing with adverse road conditions is to slow down and give yourself extra time for your commute. When you encounter sun glare, drive as slowly and carefully as you need to in order to get to your destination safely.
- Avoid Distracted Driving: Driving in the face of bright sunlight requires complete focus, so stay away from anything that would distract you, such as eating, drinking, or grooming. And of course, always refrain from texting while you are driving.
- Change Your Route and/or Departure Time: If it is practical, you might be able to alter your driving route or change the time that you leave in order to avoid or minimize the amount of sun glare you have to deal with. See if there is any way you can travel to your destination by mostly using north/south roads rather than east/west roads.
Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in Alabama? Contact Burge & Burge for Assistance
Even after you have done all you can to fully address the dangers of sun glare, you cannot control what other drivers will do. If you or someone close to got injured in an accident in Alabama that was someone else’s fault, Burge & Burge is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at 205-251-9000 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.