PRESS RELEASE: April and September sun blinds drivers--Simple steps can improve safety for all road users


Contact: Dr. Brent Hugh
Executive Director
Missouri Bicycle Federation
5916 Arlington Ave
Raytown, MO 64133
876-695-6736 (cell)
816-356-1740 (home)

A teen driver struck and injured two Springfield teenagers standing on the edge of the road. A woman crossing the street in a crosswalk near the Missouri State University Campus was struck by a car. An 18 year old man driving a pickup truck in Liberty, Missouri, slammed into a bicyclist riding to work August 30th, killing her. A teen driver struck a father on a bicycle and his three year old daughter in a bicycle trailer in Eudora, Kansas, September 4th, severely injuring them. A teen driver struck and severely injured a young child on the way to school in Gower, Missouri.

Though it was broad daylight, all these drivers said they could not see.

What could stop motorist from seeing a pedestrian, a bicyclist--or a scooter driver, motorcyclist, or even another automobile--in broad daylight?

The dangerous situation that impaired these drivers' vision happens most often near the first day of spring and the first day of autumn. At those times of year, the sun rises and sets directly to the east and west.

Many of our streets are aligned east/west. With the sun low in the sky and directly aligned with the street, the sun's glare can temporarily blind the motorist.

Nationwide, glare is responsible for hundreds of traffic fatalities and thousands of injuries each year.
"These collisions are tragic, but they are really completely avoidable," says Missouri Bicycle Federation Executive Director Brent Hugh. "Experienced drivers know how to deal with the sun, how to be prepared, and they know to slow down and drive safely."

Is there anything drivers can do to operate more safely when sun's glare makes visibility difficult?

* Slow down. Do not overdrive your sight distance. This may mean slowing well below the posted speed. In all states it is against the law to drive at speeds in excess of road conditions. Use the same precautions and care as driving in other hazardous conditions, like fog or rain. If you can't see, don't drive--get off the road and stop.

* Keep your windshield clean. A dirty windshield makes the sun's glare many times worse.

* Turn headlights on so oncoming motorists can see you as they're driving toward the sun.

* When the sun is low in the sky, anticipate and prepare for points where the sun may come out from behind trees, buildings, or hills and interfere with your vision. Remember that you can always put your hand up to shade your eyes--uh, unless your trying to juggle your cell phone and a cup of coffee as you drive. Maybe you'd better drive now--and talk, eat, and drink later.

* Remember that you share the road with pedestrians, motorcyclists, mopeds, and bicyclists. These are legal road users and the law says you must operate with their safety in mind at all times. With glare in your eyes you may still be able to make out a large automobile. But could you see a pedestrian or bicyclist in your path? If not, slow down until your speed corresponds with your ability to see ahead. That is what the law in every state says you must do.

* Beware of bearing right off the roadway into the shoulder or sidewalk, as bicyclists or pedestrians may be operating there.

* If possible, change your driving route. Use north-south streets until you find an east-west road with lots of trees or taller buildings.

* Talk with young drivers in your family or neighborhood. Because the glare problem is seasonal in nature, young drivers encounter it only occasionally. They may not have thought about how to deal with it. For this reason, a very large percentage of glare-related injuries are caused by young drivers.

"Crashes are no accident," says Hugh. "Take care to make a plan for dealing with glare while driving and you may save a life."

The Missouri Bicycle Federation, founded in 1994, together with its network of affiliated clubs and groups represent over 15,000 bicyclists, walkers, runners, and trail users throughout Missouri. A primary mission is to educate the public to create safer streets and highways for all Missouri citizens.
Find out more or join the federation at

--article resources-------

A compilation of information about glare and its effect on crashes:

Driver's guide to Missouri laws regarding bicycling:

Missouri traffic law:

In particular, much of the advice above is based on 304.012 RSMo, which states "Every person operating a motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care."

This "basic speed law" is enacted in one form or another in every state.

Kansas: 8-1557 "Basic rule governing speed of vehicles. No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual hazards then existing. Consistent with the foregoing, every person shall drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions."