When the fall arrives, daylight savings time ends and the days start getting shorter. One of the challenges for drivers (with the shorter days) is dealing with sun glare during peak driving hours. While driving to work in the morning, for example, it is not uncommon to get hit with a blast of bright sunlight after making a turn and driving east. The glare of the sun can seem blinding, and it can make it extremely difficult for drivers to see what is in front of them.
It is hard to quantify the extent to which sun glare contributes to auto accidents. Drivers are naturally very reluctant to admit that their view was inhibited by bright sunlight after a crash, and this does not always show up as a cause on a police report.
The most comprehensive data that we know of (with regards to sun glare accidents) is a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study looked at more than 11,000 life-threatening vehicle crashes over a 20-year period, and they examined the reasons for hospitalizations resulting from these accidents.
The NIH found that bright sunlight/sun glare was present in approximately one third of all accidents that happened during the daylight hours. This shows that, although there could be other contributing factors, sun glare is definitely a hazard that drivers need to be prepared for, particularly during the autumn and winter months when the sun rises later and sets earlier.
Is Sun Glare Considered an “Act of God”?
Some may argue that they are not liable for a sun glare accident because bright sunlight is an “act of God”. While it may be true that sunlight is part of nature and out of a driver’s control, this does not absolve the driver of responsibility if the glare of the sun were to cause them to crash the vehicle.
Events that are typically referred to as “acts of God” are those that are unpredictable and thus more difficult to prepare for. Examples would include floods, mudslides, earthquakes, or an animal that dashes out in front of an oncoming vehicle.
A driver is responsible to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle, and this includes preparing for events that are predictable and known to happen each day. It is not difficult to know the daily forecast and what time the sun is expected to rise and set, and therefore, a driver should be ready to deal with bright sunlight, especially if it is present on their daily drive to or from work or school.
Protecting Yourself from Sun Glare Accidents
The best way to avoid being held liable for a sun glare accident is to take steps to prevent getting into one in the first place. Here are some precautions drivers should take to avoid collisions caused by bright sunlight:
- Wear Polarized Sunglasses: While nothing can totally eliminate the glare of the sun, polarized sunglasses do the best job of minimizing the effects of bright sunlight.
- Clear your Windshield and Dashboard: Keep your dashboard free of clutter, especially reflective objects that can worsen the sun glare. Also, make sure to keep your windshield clean and free of streaks and marks. Have an adequate supply of window washer fluid available before you begin driving and be sure your windshield wipers are in good repair.
- Reduce your Speed: When you get hit with bright sunlight, one of the best defenses is to slow down. By driving more slowly, you will have more time to identify other vehicles and objects that are more difficult to see because of the glare.
- Keep your Headlights On: When there is bright sunlight present, drive with your headlights on to help other drivers see your vehicle in case they are battling sun glare.
- Avoid Distracted Driving: It is always good practice to avoid distractions while driving, and in fact, certain distractions like texting while driving are unlawful. Do your best to eliminate other distractions, especially when you are trying to deal with sun glare.
- Adjust your Route If Possible: While not always practical, one good way to avoid sun glare is to minimize the amount of eastbound travel in the morning and westbound travel in the evening. This might mean a simple route adjustment that allows you to spend more time traveling north or south, or it might be just a matter of leaving to or from work a little earlier or later. Take a look at your driving route and schedule to see if there are any helpful changes you could make.
Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Car Accident Lawyer
Even if you employ all the best safety practices, you cannot control the actions of other motorists. If you or a loved one got hurt in an auto accident that was someone else’s fault, contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for experienced legal help. Alabama is a defendant-friendly state when it comes to personal injury claims, and it is always wise to work with an attorney with the proven ability to recover maximum compensation on behalf of their clients.
To get started, call our office today or send us a message through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you!