How can you keep car sun glare from ruining your day?
We all hate sun glare while driving but most of us only think about it when we’re looking into the sun. We forget about it after we drive away from the area. A little knowledge and preparation can go a long way to avoid those moments of aggravation and the potential danger they bring.
Simply put, sun glare is caused by direct or reflected sunlight cutting across your eyes and it comes from a variety of sources when you drive.
The obvious cause is direct sunlight, especially in the prime driving times during the morning and evening hours when the sun is lower in the sky. It’s also important to realize that sunlight can be reflected off other car’s, from the windows and polished surfaces. It can even be reflected off buildings, water, ice, snow, and road signs. There are not many ways to avoid the sun completely. If you’re lucky you can change the route or the times that you drive but most of us are stuck with our commute.
Cars have a sun visor to block the direct sun glare. But roads often curve to avoid natural and manmade obstacles, and you probably don’t drive just one road. When you turn the direction of the sun changes too. That’s why the sun visor can swivel from the front to the side, and back again.
Sudden exposure to sun glare during a turn can be a serious distraction. Swiveling the sun visor can be another distraction since most people have to duck their head out of the way to move it, which means taking your eyes off the road, during a turn!
We call it the ‘duck-and-flip’ and have heard others call it ‘the visor dance’.
This all makes sun glare more than just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous too. The change in glare direction happens when you’re turning. Turning is more dangerous than driving straight because you have to look in at least two directions instead of focusing just in front. If we add in blinding glare or the distraction of ducking and flipping the visor that creates more risk of an accident.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration accounts for sun glare as a “critical reason” for environmental-related accidents. It causes 16% of this type of accident, making it the second-highest environmental factor after slick roads.
There are several ways to deal with direct and reflected sun glare:
- You can squint and bear it,
- wear a hat or sunglasses,
- add tinting to the top of the windshield,
- or you can use the car visor to block the sun.
But are these the best solutions?
- Squinting is not very effective and can lead to eyestrain and headaches.
- Hats and sunglasses help, but they focus on your front and don’t protect as much on the side. And they don’t work if you forget or lose them, which you only discover when you need them the most.
- Side not: with sunglasses always look for polarization, it makes a big difference.
Window tinting decreases brightness but leaves you facing the intense ball of the sun.
You may still end up seeing spots before your eyes.
- The car visor works best for direct sun, Consumer Reports calls it “your first line of defense” for glare. But most cars only have one visor, so it only works in one direction at a time. When the sun position changes you have to do the ‘duck-and-flip’, adding a distraction that takes your eyes off the road for crucial seconds.
For peace of mind you want a sun glare solution that’s easy and effective from multiple directions and can’t be lost or forgotten. A solid visor with flexible positions to block the ball of the sun and a tinted polarized shield to cut reflected light while letting you see the road ahead. You want Two-direction Sun Protection with The ADDVISOR.
Now that we’ve talked about dealing with sun glare directly, let's talk about things in the car that make the glare worse and, of course, what you can do about them.
What are 4 things that make sun glare worse?
First we talked about dealing with direct and reflected auto sun glare while driving. To recap, sun glare is caused by direct or reflected sunlight cutting across your eyes and it comes from a variety of sources when you drive. The glare is annoying and can be a safety risk but most of us can’t control the times and route of our commute.
The best way to stay safe and comfortable is to block the bright sun with a solid visor and having two of them avoids the distraction of moving the sun visor around while driving. High-end car makers know this and a few expensive luxury cars come from the factory with two visors. But most car makers don’t offer this, even as an option, so we shared the only way to add a second separate visor to virtually every car.
In addition to dealing with the glare directly there are 4 things in the auto which make sun glare worse. Happily there are ways we can control, or at least minimize, these factors.
You may be surprised to learn that the condition of your windshield matters a lot:
- Dirt scatters and spreads the light,
- scratches and cracks reflect and bend it,
- condensation or ‘fog’ on the glass spreads the glare,
- And closely related, even a dashboard that is too shiny can reflect more glare.
The good news is that you can address each of these conditions, and it often taking just a few minutes:
- Clean your windshield and windows regularly, inside and out. There are many ways to clean glass so use what works best for you. One trick to keeping that clean longer is to wipe it down with vinegar afterwards, vinegar slows new buildup. There are also treatments like Rain-X or Aquapel that help the glass stay clean longer.
- Tip: Maintaining your wipers and keeping the washer fluid filled gives you a quick cleaning option when you find yourself looking through a dirty windshield and can’t stop to clean it by hand. This is even more important during the winter when salt and other snow melt materials get kicked up by other cars and can turn a freshly cleaned windshield into a bleary mess very quickly.
- Tip: If you’re a person who likes to know the details check out this Q&A by the Grainger College of Engineering. It won’t make the fog go away any better but it’s interesting to know why it happens.
- TIP: You can use a microfiber cloth, a dryer sheet, or a melamine sponge and clean the dashboard nicely without any chemicals. ArmorAll, and others, make Matte cleaners for vinyl and rubber that leave less after-shine. Kelly Blue Book has a bunch of DIY car cleaning ideas for nearly every part of the car.
My commute included a stretch of rolling hills heading East. For two months in spring and two more in fall there were several spots where I would come up to the top of a rise and the sun hung just above the horizon shining right into every driver's eyes.
It only took a few unprepared drivers to jam on their brakes for the traffic to back up for a mile. They panicked because they literally could not see what was in front of them from the glare. Several times I saw cars on the side of the road because the first car slowed so much and so unexpectedly that the following car crashed into their rear. We all know that traffic gets even worse when there is an accident.
So I’ll end with a safety reminder from my own experience. If you’re driving in a time and route with heavy glare leave more distance between you and the car ahead. Intense glare can make people slow down unexpectedly, and you want enough time to react. In many states sun glare is not acceptable as a defense in an accident. It’s generally considered the responsibility of the driver to take reasonable steps to mitigate the glare while driving.
Hope this article helps you improve your driving experience with clearer vision and less glare. You can see that the solution has two parts: Combine good maintenance of your windshield to minimize spreading light and use effective blocking tools to prevent light blindness and distractions. Having both goes a long way towards making your drive safer and more comfortable.
Enjoy the drive!