This month, a 50-car pile-up on Interstate 20 outside of Arlington, Texas, left three people seriously injured. An initial investigation into the huge chain-reaction crash is that many drivers were blinded by the glare on the road caused by an early-evening thunderstorm that left water on the road combined with a setting sun.
While many drivers think of rain, wind, and snow when they think of dangerous weather conditions to drive in, sun glare is the cause of a significant number of traffic accidents each year in Texas. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), glare and other poor weather conditions is one of the six top causes of car accidents in America after distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and fatigue.
Many are surprised to learn that different types of glare can affect our ability to see and drive at any time during the day or night. Glare is most common when the sun is rising and setting – and also most common in the fall and spring, when the sun is lined up more directly with roads that travel directly east and west. However, glare can also be significant after a storm, when the sun hits wet roads, or even at night, when headlights or street lights can cause glare.
How can you help prevent car accidents caused by sun glare?
• Be more vigilant and aware of glare issues during the first and last hours of sunlight, when the sun is rising and setting.
• Especially if the sun is rising or setting in front of you, put on a pair of polarized sunglasses to cut down on glare.
• Use the visors located above your windshield to block out bright light – but realize that visors can also affect block your vision.
• Clean your windows and windshield often.
• Take a look at your dashboard – the smaller and darker your car or truck dashboard is, the less likely your vision will be affected by windshield glare. Also, avoid shining your dashboard with cleaners.