The Sun Gets in Your Eyes
This is a dangerous time of year for my morning commute. The sun is just above the horizon and in four locations I am looking directly into it while I drive. Even with my visor down and one hand up to block the reflection from the hood, it is still very difficult to see ahead of me. The rear end collision that I passed at one set of traffic lights tells me that I am not the only one having problems being blinded by the glare.
A good set of polarized sunglasses would probably be of significant help in this situation, but there are many other things that I can do to increase my margin of safety and avoid a very close examination of the back end of the vehicle I am following.
Undoubtedly, the first thing I should be doing is maintaining a safe following distance, especially since I drive this highway every weekday and can anticipate the problem. Slowing down where I know the problem is worst will do two things, increase my following distance further and in the event that I do crash will result in less damage to both me and my vehicle if I hit someone else or am struck from behind.
Having a clean windshield, both inside and outside will help to eliminate glare caused by dirt or chemical films on the glass. If you rub a clean fingertip on the inside of your windshield and see a smear you know you are past due for a good scrub. Make sure your windshield washer is full and consider using a cleaning fluid rather than plain water.
The traffic lights I pass have three signal heads, one over each lane and one halfway up the support on the right edge of the roadway. Watching that right edge signal takes my line of sight away from the sun and allows me to decide what to do before I arrive at the intersection. If you can't see, you can't cross, unless you are comfortable with 50 - 50 odds that your light is still green. I'm not.
Pedestrians should also anticipate and take greater care in these conditions as well. Even if the driver is looking at you, if the sun is on the opposite side there is very little chance of being recognized and a very significant chance of being struck. Even walking alongside the highway is risky if drivers stray from their lane.