Driving Hazard: The glare of the sun

Safety Alert Type: 
Weather
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2017-10-02
Company Name: 
Rayonier New Zealand
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Be prepared for Sunstrike!

Sun strike or sun dazzle (as it's known in New Zealand) is when the sun is low on the horizon and your sun visors are not low enought to prevent it from getting in your eyes. When it is on the horizon, blocking the sun can mean blocking the view of traffic ahead, which makes it dangerous. Shorter drivers are at more risk of experiencing sun strike because the sun visor is less effectively placed.

The most common sun strike-related crashes involve people pulling out from a side street or driveway into the path of another vehicle, or rear-ending a stationery or slow moving vehicle. Sun strike also increases risks for cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, as they are more easily hidden in the glare due to their size.

If you are riding or walking, be careful at intersections on sunny days. Don’t assume a driver has seen you. Even if you are not affected by the sun's glare, someone else may be.

Here are some common times when sun strike occurs:

  • During Winter - the sun is closer to the horizon, and also the sun rises and sets during the time most people are going to work. If you commute east in the morning and west to go home, you will get sun strike twice per day.
  • Exiting a tunnel or built up area - if the tunnel is long enough, your eyes will adjust to the relative darkness, thus when exiting into bright light, you can’t see. Tall buildings can shade you from the sun and when you move to less urbanised streets, the sun can be a problem.
  • Reflections - as we know the sun can and does reflect off windows of buildings, other vehicles windshields, and when it’s wet, the road surface.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Reducing the danger of sun strike and avoid crashing:

  • Be prepared for possible sun strike when driving at sunrise or sunset, especially when turning or driving towards the sun.
  • Be especially careful during winter, when sun strike is more likely to occur because the sun is lower in the sky.
  • Keep your windscreen clean, inside and out. Dust and grime on the windscreen can make the effects of sun strike much worse. • Do not clean your windscreen (while driving) while you are experiencing sun strike.
  • Wear polarised sunglasses, as these are best at combating glare.
  • Use your car’s sun visors to block the sun.
  • Turn your headlights on so your vehicle is easier to see.
  • If you experience sun strike, and you are travelling long distances, try to time your journey and/or pull over and wait a while until your eyes adjust or visability improves (i.e., sun has dipped a bit lower down that sun strike is now no longer an issue).
  • Be extra careful if snow has fallen and the sky is clear - sunlight shining on snow can cause ‘snow blindness’, which produces similar effects to sun strike.

Every driving day is different, conditions change, so adapt your driving to suit.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

New Zealand Forest Owners Association's incident alerts web page:

http://nzfoa-iris.com/

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert-New_Zealand_Sun_Glare-Sept 28-2017.pdf
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