From hard rain and heavy wind to slick roads and the occasional snow flurry, Virginia drivers have much to worry about with the changing seasons. Unfortunately, one road safety hazard comes from a truly unexpected source – the sun.
During the fall and winter, drivers often welcome what little daylight they have. Unfortunately, that sunlight can come at a cost. During a morning or evening commute, a driver might face devastating sun glare. This occurs when sunlight reflects against the windshield of the vehicle, obstructing the driver’s view of the road and other cars. Often, the light is bright enough to cause temporary blindness.
Why is sun glare worse in the fall?
While it seems counterintuitive that sunlight would be more of a hazard in the fall than in the summer months, there is a straightforward reason. Since the sun’s position in the sky is lower during the fall and winter months, sunlight hits a driver at a more direct angle. This severe angle, seemingly coming directly from the horizon, can completely obstruct a driver’s view of the environment, traffic patterns, other vehicles and warning signals.
Inability to recognize stopped cars, traffic signals and pedestrian crosswalks can lead to serious crashes. Drivers who drift into oncoming lanes risk a head-on collision while drivers who enter an intersection against the signal risk a T-bone collision.
Depending on the types of motor vehicles involved in the collision, drivers and occupants alike can suffer catastrophic injuries or death. Injuries can include broken bones, amputation, head trauma, spinal cord damage or paralysis. Drivers of cars, trucks and motorcycles can all face blinding sun glare during the fall and winter months leading to serious collisions.