Sunlight and sun glare can cause hazardous conditions on the road, but they can’t be used as an excuse in court if you’ve been in a collision. This can be very frustrating for drivers, who feel like they had no way to mitigate the danger, and for victims, who may feel like the responsible party is using sunlight as an excuse for their accident. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complexities that sunlight and glare can introduce to your case.
How does sunlight or sun glare cause accidents?
Every year, numerous accidents in Georgia happen because drivers are blinded by sunlight or sun glare. There are three main ways you can find yourself blinded by the sun:
- The sun is directly in front of you as you drive, and the full sunlight blinds you.
- The sun is at an angle to your car, and water, dust or streaks on your windshield suddenly light up, making it hard to see.
- The sunlight reflects off of another surface, such as the dashboard or the road itself, creating glare and interfering with your visibility. (This is more common in northern climates where snow on the ground creates a reflective surface.)
Often, sun glare only happens for a few seconds, perhaps just as your car comes around a bend toward the sun. Even these few seconds of blindness are enough time to cause an accident.
What kinds of accidents does sunlight cause?
We have seen sunlight involved in:
- Car accidents where on or both drivers were blinded, especially rear end accidents.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents, where a blinded driver could not see the person/bike in the street
- Single car accidents, where a blinded driver drifts and hits an object (such as a utility pole)
What time of day is sunlight most dangerous?
Most sunlight accidents happen in morning or late afternoon, when the sun is close to the horizon and thus shining straight at drivers. Unfortunately, rush hour creates the perfect conditions for sunlight glare accidents: lots of cars crowd the road at once just as the sun is in position to blind them. This is when the majority of these accidents happen.
Who is considered at fault in a sunlight accident?
The sun is not considered an excuse under the law, and it does not change who is at fault in an accident. If the accident was caused by a driver who was unable to see due to the sun, that driver will usually be held at fault—but not always.
Exceptions to this rule could include:
- The driver can prove that they exercised reasonable caution
- The other party involved broke some traffic rule, and would have share some or all of the fault even if no sun blinding had occurred
These exceptions are rare, and they may just mean fault is shared between both parties.
Why can’t sunlight and sun glare be used as excuses in an accident?
The reason sun glare is not an excuse is because the law expects all drivers to take basic precautions for hazardous weather conditions when driving. Just as it would be careless to drive at 65 mph in a heavy fog, it is also careless to get into a car on a sunny day and take no precautions against glare. Drivers have a responsibility to take precautions amid hazardous road conditions, including sunlight and sun glare.
How could I have prevented sunlight glare?
There are several ways to minimize or prevent blinding glare. These include:
- Keeping your windshield free of dust or streaks, and cleaning it regularly
- Regularly wiping down your dashboard to prevent glare on dust
- Not choosing a route that drives directly into bright sunlight
- Wearing sunglasses, especially polarized glasses to reflect the glare away
Most of the time when sun glare happens it’s unexpected. If it does happen, remember that it may be affecting other drivers around you as well. Pull down your sun visor immediately and be on the lookout for vehicles or pedestrians as you slow down—it may be best to pull over and look for your sunglasses.
A lawyer can help you after an accident involving sunlight glare
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.