Fall is a special time in Colorado, a season of sensory overload. Hillsides glitter with aspen going gold. Mountain meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park resound with the calls of bugling elk. Temperatures drop overnight from baking-hot to mild, yet the sun seems brighter than ever — and that’s a problem for drivers trying to find their way through the glare.
Sun glare is worse in the fall and early winter because of the sun’s relative position on the horizon. On the first day of fall, the sun comes up due east, then rises a little further south every day until the winter solstice. The sun is low on the horizon in early morning or evening – right during many drivers’ commutes to and from work. For those heading mainly east or west, that can lead to bad cases of sunlight affecting your visibility and even causing temporary blindness that can last several seconds.
Many drivers regard sun glare as a minor annoyance, but it can be quite dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bright sunlight causes around 9000 accidents a year in the United States. That makes glare the second-leading environmental cause of crashes, right after slick and icy roads. And in some parts of Colorado, the angle and position of the road intensifies sun glare — so much so that authorities have been known to close certain roads, such as the stretch of I-70 at Floyd Hill west of Denver, during the worst periods of glare.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from glare-related accidents. Here are the most effective ways we know:
Sunglasses. Don’t leave home without them. Obvious, right? Yet it’s surprising how many ill-equipped motorists end up squinting into the sunlight when they could be riding in style. A good pair of cheaters will not only filter out a lot of the glare but protect your eyes from those powerful UV rays Colorado sunshine is known to dole out.
Sun visors. The visors are designed to block out the direct light in your eyes while not impeding your ability to see the road ahead. They are standard equipment and have probably saved more lives than anything else this side of a seat belt.
Clean your windshield. Bright sunlight has a way of magnifying all the dust, streaks, and smudges on your windshield, making it more difficult to see the road ahead. Don’t wait for the glare to develop and hope a couple of blasts of wiper fluid will dispel the problem; give the windshield a quick clean inside and out before hitting the road.
Consider a tint job. Tinting your windows costs a few hundred dollars and can significantly reduce the amount of glare inside the vehicle. If you frequently drive in the early morning or late afternoon, the investment might be worth it. However, many states have strict standards on just how much tinting is allowed. Check with local authorities before turning your car into a tinted fortress.
Shuffle your drive time. The best way to beat glare is not to be on the road when it’s at its worst—typically, the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. If your schedule allows some flexibility, plan to be on the road at other times. It’s also a good idea to pull off the road if the glare is simply too intense. Fifteen minutes at a rest stop can make a great difference.
Slow down and keep your distance. Bright sunlight impairs not only visibility but reaction time. Give yourself plenty of time and room to react to other drivers struggling with glare, and keep in mind that when you’re driving into the sun, the traffic coming toward you is dealing with it in its rearview mirror, too.
THE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise in serious injury cases have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Greeley, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.