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Autumn Drivers: Beware of Sun Glare, Leaves in Roadways, and Dew

Sun Glare on Roadway Photo Credit Niila Jinnah via Flickr

Springfield's latest traffic crash report card shows that fatality crashes in Springfield are down so far this year compared to last year. However, the number of total crashes has increased. KSMU’s Shannon Bowers speaks with Springfield Public Works about factors that affect motorists specifically during the Autumn season.

When most people think about Autumn, they think of colorful trees, football, and pumpkin-flavored treats. But Mandy Buettgen-Quinn, the safety engineer with Springfield Public Work’s Traffic Operations, wants drivers to be aware of a few changes that come with the season:  sun glare, fog, and dew.

“Further, eventually there will be some leaves on the road that may cover up the delineators, or the pavement markings. So once again, we just urge people to drive to conditions, which might mean that they need to slow down a little bit,” said Buettgen-Quinn.

Every year, around the end of March and again in September, the seasons make a change called the equinox.  During these times, the sun is almost directly at an east-west alignment, creating a sun glare. Most sun glare related crashes happen two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.

“In the morning, when the sun comes up, it is very bright and it tends to blind drivers and pedestrians. So we really urge the public to drive extra careful and make sure that if you see the car in front of you stopping, you might not see it as clearly, just because you have the sun behind you,” said Buettgen-Quinn.

Unfortunately, sun glare occurs during the typical morning rush hour, when people are driving to work or dropping their children off at school. Crash data shows that significantly more crashes happen on Springfield roads during these hours.

“Maybe there might be some better routs for them to take that are not directly in the east-west alignment. And then especially at the cross walks, double check that there is no child walking  in front of them. It is not just that the drivers that  can’t see, the pedestrians can’t see either,” Buettgen-Quinn said.

Buettgen-Quinn notes that dew, fog, and ice can also affect a driver’s visibility. She recommends taking the extra time to thoroughly clean your windows and properly warm your vehicle.

The recent traffic report for Springfield reflects crashes occurring January 1st to June 30th of this this year. During that time period, there were seven fatality crashes, compared to 13  that time period last year. Overall crashes increased by 3%.

For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.