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Sun Glare while Driving


To provide photographic examples of the effects of sun glare while driving.


  • These samples were taken with sun altitudes between 2 and 7 degrees. 
  • In these photos, the camera automatically reduced the intensity of the sun's glare.  Actual intensities were much greater, to the point of causing eye watering.
  • Note how difficult it is to see into the shadows (Figs 1 and 2).
  • Note how quickly visibility can deteriorate (Fig 2).
  • Note how road grade can change the effective height of the sun (Fig 3).
  • Note what can NOT be seen when the sun is close to one's line of sight (Fig 4).

FIG 1 - Bright Sun / Dark Shadows

(Sun at about 7 degrees above horizon)

photo of dark shadows along road

photo of sun glare ahead, dark shadows on side of road

Note darkness of shadows.  

FIG 2 - Sudden change in visibility conditions

(Sun at about 6.5 degrees above horizon)

photo of decent visibility of roadway ahead

photo of reduced visibility due to sun glare

Note darkness of shadows.  School on left, crosswalk ahead, and intersecting street on right.  

Note how relatively good visibility can deteriorate in a matter of seconds. 

(4 seconds between photos in this example)

FIG 3 - Sun appears lower due to climbing road grade

(Sun at 3.5 degree altitude (apparent height is less))

photo 1 - sun glare obscuring traffic signal

photo 2 - sun glare obscuring traffic signal

photo 3 - sun glare obscuring traffic signal

photo 4 - sun glare obscuring traffic signal

Note how apparent height of sun is reduced by climbing road grade.

FIG 4 - Sun glare obscures important objects

(Sun at about 2 degrees above horizon)

photo of sun 2 degrees above horizon

Note what is NOT visible in this photo...

photo of low sun obscuring oncoming traffic

...an approaching ambulance turning left....

photo of low sun obscuring stop sign

...and a Stop Sign!!

Contact Info:

Ralph Bouwmeester, P. Eng.
R. Bouwmeester & Associates
Barrie, Ontario Canada
Phone: 1-705-726-3392

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