sun glare

Here is a trick question: which of the following weather conditions poses zero problems for drivers?

a) Heavy rain

b) Hail

c) Tornado

d) Bright sunshine

Correct!  The answer is: none of the above.  While bright sunshine may be the most welcome of the four, it comes with its own hidden danger: sun glare that can blind you.

Rarely cited as the chief reason for an auto body accident, police say sun glare is among the most underreported causes of car collisions and deaths on the road.  The problem is not just from direct sunlight alone, but from sunshine bouncing off other cars, windows on buildings, bodies of water and even your own dashboard.

In nice weather sun glare can strike at any time, making it difficult if not impossible to see pedestrians, traffic signals or hard-braking vehicles for the critical moment that can spell the difference between a good day and a trip to the auto body shop.  Spring is one of the worst times for sun glare, because the sun hangs at its lowest during morning and evening rush hours.

Here is how you can protect yourself when and where sun glares strikes:

• Wear polarized sunglasses – the only kind that cut through glare.  Keep them handy, and wear them any time you are driving on a sunny day.

• Keep your windshield clean.  Dirt and grime magnify the effect of sun glare.  Do not forget to keep the inside clean as well as the outside.

• Lower your sun visors.  Carefully position your visors to block as much direct sun light as possible without significantly reducing your ability to see traffic.

• Slow down, increase your following distance.  These are the best defenses against the decrease in reaction time blinding sun glare can cause.

• Turn on your headlights.  This improves your visibility by other drivers who may be sun-blinded.

• Don’t polish the top of your dashboard.  Vinyl cleaners can make your dashboard sparkle, but they only increase the reflectivity of light onto the inside of your windshield, a phenomenon known as “veiling glare.”