With time change be aware of glare at sunrise, sunset

In some locations sun hovers just above roadway, blinding drivers during commuting hours

BRISTOL, Va. – Early Sunday morning we’ll set our clocks back one hour to Eastern Standard Time. Along with that extra hour of sleep the return to Standard Time brings some less desirable consequences.

After the time changes from Daylight Saving to Standard Time the sunrise and sunset hours more closely align with morning and evening commuting hours, which means large numbers of drivers will encounter the sun low on the horizon during their morning and evening drives. In some locations the sun appears to hover just above the roadway, creating blinding glare that is difficult to avoid and can leave drivers unable to see the road and other vehicles around them.

In past years this seasonal sun glare has been determined to be a contributing factor in some vehicle crashes, particularly on interstate and primary highways. The effect is most acute beginning in mid-late October through the winter months because sunrise and sunset so closely correlate with peak commuting hours.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sun glare is the cause of about 9,000 crashes each year. It ranks as the second environmental cause of traffic crashes, behind only slick roads.

Here are some tips for drivers on the road in the early morning and late afternoon that may reduce the hazard:

  • Be aware of sunrise and sunset times.
  • Consider adjusting your drive time; just a few minutes earlier or later will change the sun’s position relative to the roadway.
  • Reduce speed when approaching an area where the sun hovers above the pavement.
  • Be aware of the location of vehicles around you.
  • Allow extra distance between your vehicle and others to reduce the risk of collisions.
  • Do not swerve, slow or stop suddenly; other drivers behind you may not be able to slow or stop.
  • Drive with headlights on to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers.
  • Keep your windshield clean; streaks and smears will worsen the effect of sun glare.
  • Use your visor to block the sun if possible.
  • Polarized sunglasses can help reduce glare.

Current traffic conditions, VDOT’s statewide network of traffic cameras and other real-time travel information is on the 511Virginia website. That information is also available on the free VDOT 511 mobile app or by calling 511 from any phone in Virginia. VDOT updates are also on Facebook (VDOT Bristol District group) and the district’s X account, @VaDOTBristol.

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Last updated: July 19, 2024

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