Have you ever traversed the streets in the evening and had to shield your eyes because the sunset was so bright? This is an everyday occurrence for many New Mexicans, especially those who have a westbound commute home from work. It is common for many drivers to pop on a pair of sunglasses or adjust their car’s sun visor accordingly.
What is not common is blaming the sunset when something goes wrong–say, a car accident. Yet that is just what two drivers who were involved in serious car accidents involving pedestrians are doing. The motorists say that the setting sun was in their eyes, preventing them from seeing pedestrians who were in the middle of the road.
Blame it on the sun
Two drivers in recent accidents have claimed that the evening sun blinded them to pedestrians crossing the road. For one 69-year-old pedestrian, the accident was fatal. The other pedestrian, also a woman in her 60s, is currently hospitalized in critical condition. Both drivers were headed westbound and said that they could not see the victims because the sun was in their eyes.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Division offers some alarming statistics regarding car accidents, the time of day and the amount of sunlight. According to the department, most New Mexico car accidents happen between 6 to 9 p.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. In the winter, these are all times when the sunlight is most intense.
Sometimes, the sun can greatly affect a driver’s vision: But that is still not an excuse for a car accident. The Safety Division offers several pieces of advice to drivers who deal with harsh sunlight: Slow down when the sun creates a glare; scan the road at an angle rather than looking directly into the light; and keep a clean windshield.