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September 29, 2014 Published in Traffic & Transportation

Autumn Sun Glare More Hazardous During East To West Commutes Until The End Of Daylight Saving Time

From now to the end of daylight saving time on November 3 is a deadly time of year for east to west commuters due to the sun’s alignment during sunrise and sunset. Drivers should take additional precautions such as leaving additional space between vehicles, wearing sunglasses, making sure their windshields are clean and slowing down, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic.

During October, the sun will rise between 7:04 a.m. and 7:34 a.m. when drivers are headed out on their daily commutes to work and to drop their children off at school. The sun will set between 6:51 p.m. and 6:09 p.m. when commuters are headed home. “It is during the first 15 to 45 minutes of sunrise that sun-glare becomes a serious hazard to motorists,” advises the National Weather Service (NWS). “Motorists traveling westbound can also experience sun-glare as the sun drops lower toward the horizon,” warns the NWS.

“The bright sun can easily impede the ability to see the road, pedestrians, cyclists and traffic signals,” says John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Motorists should take additional precautions to avoid being blinded by the light including wearing sunglasses, cleaning their windshields, slowing down, and altering their commutes whenever possible.”

The National Weather Service and AAA Mid-Atlantic provide safety tips to area drivers.

  • Be aware that drivers traveling toward the sun at sunrise or sunset may be virtually blinded.
  • Clean your windshield outside and inside. A cracked or dirty windshield can magnify glare.
  • Wear sunglasses with polarized lenses, or wear eyeglasses with an anti-reflective (AR) coating.
  • Keep in mind, scratched eyewear makes glare worse.
  • Heed the speed limit, particularly if you are driving into the sunrise on your way into work or the sunset on your way home.
  • Increase your following distance beyond the recommended safe distances to allow three or more seconds between vehicles. The more space you have, the more time you have to react.
  • Turn headlights on so oncoming motorists can see you as they are driving toward the sun.
  • Use your visor as much as possible, but remember that visors can also block your vision.
  • Use sun-blocking or shading tools that can provide protection and prevent sun glare.
  • Consider alternate routes to minimize east/west driving whenever possible. Use north/south streets until you find an east/west road with lots of trees or taller buildings.
  • Be alert to changing cloud cover and changing traffic flow.

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