As we are a couple months away from potential snowy season here Michigan bad weather is sure to cause more car accidents and injuries from car accidents. But studies show sunny days can be even more hazardous. One 2021 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates that serious car accidents increase by 16 percent when it's very sunny and glare is present.
We have all driven on beautiful sunny days in the winter either in the morning or later in the day and noticed the blinding effect of the sun as we drive. Early mornings heading east, or late in the day heading west and sun glare can be blinding. Whether traveling at high speed on the highway or slowly through a busy intersection, becoming temporarily blinded by the sun is terrifying.
Safe driving requires clear vision and an unobstructed view but what are we to do when confronted with the unavoidable glare of the sun? Well to begin with we all should be aware of this common risk of sun glare and prepare accordingly. Here are some common-sense precautions:
- Slow WAY down: Your best move when driving through a sun glare is to slow down. When you can’t see you don’t have the ability to react quickly, so going slower will help you avoid an accident. Slow down to the speed you would drive if you were in the pouring rain, a blizzard, or driving through thick fog.
- Put more distance between you and other cars: When visibility is terrible it’s critical to stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Remember, if you can’t see, then the person in front of you probably can’t see either and may end up braking abruptly.
- Wear or have available polarized sunglasses: Keep a pair of polarized sunglasses in your car. They work great and will help you reduce the sun glare. Polarized sunglasses are made with a special filter in the lens that can block intensely reflected light. They’re particularly effective while driving through snowy or wet areas where sun glare is the most extreme.
- Keep your windshield clean: Dirty windows scatter light making it even more difficult to see when the sun is directly in front of you. Before you head out, make sure the windows are clean inside and out. Keep a roll of paper towels in the car so you can wipe the windshield down if needed on your drive.
- Have your wiper fluid filled before you head out: Also, keep an extra gallon of washer fluid in your car in case you run out during your time driving. Pulling over to refill an empty reservoir could be a life saver.
- Take an alternate route to avoid driving directly into the sun: Let’s face it, many of us drive the same routes every day. We know when sun glare is likely to be an issue. Routes that run north or south will keep you from traveling directly into the sun. Routes that are surrounded by tall buildings or trees can also help block sun glare. Another less convenient option is to adjust your schedule, so you avoid times when sun glare is at its worse, which is usually an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise.
- Keep your headlights on
- Make sure your sun visor works
So who is at fault for an accident caused by sun glare?
The most likely answer is the person who was blinded and caused the accident. Obviously, each case is fact-specific but being blinded by the sun doesn't excuse us from liability if an accident occurs. It may seem like a great defense to a car accident since how can you blame someone if they can't see?
There is no law in Michigan that excuses someone from an accident simply because of sun glare. Even though it may have been the primary cause of the accident everyone driving a car has a legal duty to exercise due care no matter what the weather conditions are.
The law assumes that we all understand that sunlight may get in our eyes and affect our ability to see but the law requires us to take reasonable precautions to avoid such accidents. Evidence of an emergency such as temporary sun glare does not legally require application of a different standard of care.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident involving sun glare, you deserve to speak with a lawyer who has the experience to get the compensation that you deserve. Here at Bashore Green Law Group, our experienced Michigan auto accident attorneys have experience working in the insurance industry, which gives us a truly unique advantage when fighting on your behalf. Call us at 248-487-1887 to learn more.