During the fall and spring, there are many days when sunrise and sunset coincide with morning and evening rush hours. This means that for many, their commutes to and from work are often disrupted by blasts of bright sunlight. Sun glare can be blinding at times, making it very difficult to navigate the roadways.
Sun glare creates dangerous driving conditions, and it contributes to numerous auto accidents each year. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a 20-year study that examined more than 11,000 life-threatening vehicle accidents. The study found that bright sunlight was present in approximately one-third of all crashes that occurred during daylight hours.
Who is Liable for a Sun Glare Accident?
Prince Philip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth, blamed sun glare when he overturned his vehicle during the winter of 2019. He said that he was “dazzled by the sun” before the vehicle crashed and the car flipped over. But was sunlight really the main cause of the Duke’s crash?
Drivers who get into sun glare accidents might try to argue that that these events would fall into the category of an “act of God”. And while bright sunlight certainly plays a role in some auto accidents, legally, this is generally not a valid legal argument.
Acts of God are events that are infrequent and unpredictable, causing an emergency situation that the driver could not have reasonably foreseen and been able to prepare for. For example, a deer jumps out in front of an oncoming vehicle on that highway, leaving the driver with no time to avoid hitting the animal.
The situation is much different with sun glare. For something to be considered an “act of God”, it would have to be a sudden and unexpected natural circumstance that disrupts the driver. Although bright sunlight can peek into your window suddenly, it cannot be considered “unexpected”.
The sun rises every morning and sets every afternoon/evening, and these events happen every single day. On some days, the sun is brighter than on others, depending on how cloudy it is and other factors. But it is not difficult to know when you might encounter bright sunlight, all you need to do is read a weather report.
The bottom line is that if sun glare causes you to crash your vehicle, you would most likely be held liable for any resulting property damage and physical injuries. So, the best approach is to be prepared to effectively deal with bright sunlight while driving, so you do not and up in an accident in the first place.
Ways to Avoid Sun Glare Accidents
Although you may not be able to completely avoid bright sunlight while driving, there are some ways to mitigate its effects:
- Keep your Windshield Clean and Clear: This is the time of the year when the roads can get wet and sloppy, causing windshields to get dirty. Be sure your windshield is clean and free of streaks when you drive. Have plenty of washer fluid at all times; and replace your windshield wipers if they are worn and causing problems.
- Wear Polarized Sunglasses: A good pair of polarized sunglasses can help minimize the effects of sun glare.
- Use your Sun Visors Effectively: Use your sun visors when appropriate to block out as much of the glare as possible. You might also want to consider purchasing sun visor extenders for this purpose.
- Avoid Distractions: As with all other times that your vehicle is in motion, avoid text messaging and other forms of distracted driving.
- Adjust Your Route and Drive Time (if possible): If you drive the same route to and from work every day, there might be some adjustments you could make that would allow you to do more north/south driving and less east/west driving. You might also be able to adjust your drive time a little bit to avoid periods of peak sunlight.
- Drive Slowly and Carefully when Sun Glare is Present: When you encounter bright sunlight, slow the vehicle down and proceed cautiously until you get through it. In some cases, it might be necessary to pull over and stop for a few minutes.
Injured in an Auto Accident in Georgia? Contact Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. for Legal Help
In spite of our best efforts to drive safely, we cannot control the actions of others on the road. If you or someone close to you got injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at 678-981-5370 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.