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            Sunglare Dangers during the Fall Equinox

We see a variety of weather over the southern Plains during the year. We have become accustomed to large hail, tornadoes, blinding snow storms, flash flooding, and deadly heat. But there is another subtle, yet very significant risk that we face during this time of year.

This year the first day of Autumn occurs at 9:49 am on Saturday, September 22. In and around the Autumnal Equinox, including the week before and the week after, the sun spends roughly an equal amount of time above and below the horizon. The rising sun aligns itself perfectly with our many east-west roadways, including busy freeways such as Interstate 40. It is during the first 15 to 45 minutes of sunrise that sunglare becomes a serious hazard to motorists.

Our sunrise over the next couple of weeks will range from 7:15 to 7:25 am CDT, which corresponds with the morning rush hour when people are going to work or taking kids to school. What seems like a perfect, sunny day could take a serious turn for the worst, or even deadly due to virtual blindness from the sun. Hundreds of accidents, many of them deadly, have occurred over the last several years across the United States.

A similar situation occurs during the late afternoon/early evening hours. Motorists traveling westbound can also experience sunglare as the sun drops lower toward the horizon.

There are a few things that you can do to help keep yourself safe:

  • Be aware that cars traveling toward the sun at sunrise or sunset may be virtually blinded.
  • Wear quality polarized sunglasses to help reduce glare.
  • Be alert to changing cloud cover and changing traffic flow.
  • A dirty windshield only worsens the problem. Clean your windshield thoroughly, including the inside, since dirt and haze on the glass increases glare and makes it especially hard to see.
  • Don't put reflective items on the dashboard.
  • Turn headlights on so oncoming motorists can see you as they are driving toward the sun.
  • Increase your following distance beyond the recommend safe distances to allow three or more seconds between vehicles. If you get cut off, keep your cool and maintain a safe distance.
  • If possible, change your driving route. Use north-south streets until you find an east-west road with lots of trees or taller buildings.

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Oklahoma City for September 2012:

Day Sunrise Time (CDT) Sunset Time (CDT)
20 717 AM 729 PM
21 718 AM 728 PM
22 719 AM 726 PM
23 719 AM 725 PM
24 720 AM 723 PM
25 721 AM 722 PM
26 722 AM 720 PM
27 722 AM 719 PM
28 723 AM 717 PM
29 724 AM 716 PM
30 725 AM 715 PM

To find out exactly what time the sun rises and sets at your location, you can click here.


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