BOUWMEESTER & ASSOCIATES
Sun & Shadow Position
with Modeling Applications in
Collision and Crime Scene Reconstruction,
Urban Development, Site Planning and Building Design
|What We Do
means more problems for commuters
Mike Branom, East Valley Tribune
September 29, 2005
Article re-printed from the "East Valley Tribune"
September 29, 2005
Valley Tribune" is hereby acknowledged for the content.
© 2001 - 2005 All Rights Reserved. Freedom Communications, Inc.
Contact Mike Branom
or phone (480) 898-6536
East Valley Tribune
The early morning sun
during the equinox season
can create a glare
that has the potential
to make rush hour
even more dangerous than usual.
|Toru Kawana, Tribune
Commuters are being blinded by the light. The Earth’s orbit
around the sun and the compass-points layout of the Valley’s road
system combine during the fall and spring equinox seasons to make rush
hour even more dangerous than usual.
People who drive east from their homes to their jobs now are challenged
twice daily to make out traffic signals, signs, pedestrians and other
vehicles against a backdrop of dazzling sunshine.
The results can be fatal.
Last week, in a span of less than 14 hours, there were two collisions
in Mesa in which a driver looking into the sun ran a red light. On
Friday evening, the victim was a 14-year-old boy walking home from
football practice; the next morning at a different intersection, a
51-year-old Gilbert man died when his vehicle was struck by a pickup.
Authorities blame the drivers, rather than the sun. But experts know
glare can be a factor.
"In Arizona the sun is very bright, and if you’re not paying attention
you can miss somebody because of it," said Paul Hallums, president and
CEO of the National Traffic Safety Institute in Tucson. "It does
interfere here substantially more than in other cities."
Unknown is exactly how much of a factor the sun is in crashes.
"It makes perfect common sense," said Linda Gorman, spokeswoman for
Mesa’s transportation division. "But we just can’t prove it."
At least one expert who has studied the sun’s effects knows what Valley
motorists face every September and March. Ralph Bouwmeester has made a
business of advising builders where to place sun decks, windows and
gardens. He also helps attorneys defend drivers who claim they were
temporarily blinded by glare.
Angela Cruz ran the red light on Longmore, striking Sean Casey as he
walked across Baseline Road around 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Bouwmeester’s computer re-creation places the sun within 7
degrees of straight ahead and 10 degrees up from the horizon.
Translated to a 2-foot distance from Cruz’s eyes to the windshield of
her Chevrolet Caprice, the sun was slightly less than 3 inches to left
of straight ahead and 4 1 /2 inches up from the road.
The conditions were even worse at 7 a.m. Saturday when
Antonio Hernandez ran a red light at Val Vista Drive on the eastbound
off-ramp of U.S. 60. Hernandez was looking at a sun that was 6 degrees
to the right of center and 8 degrees up from the horizon. He hit three
vehicles, killing Lawrence Brabeck.
"It’s this time of year that is crucial," said Bouwmeester, whose Web
site is https://www.sunposition.com/.
Some advice: Motorists aren’t helpless against the sun’s powerful rays.
Police offer these tips:
• Slow down. If you can’t see well, give yourself more time
• Don’t drive with a dirty, cracked or pitted windshield.
• Wear sunglasses. The more protection for your eyes, the better.
• Keep your sun visor clear of excess objects. "A lot of people put a
lot of stuff up in their visors," said Arizona Department of Public
Safety Sgt. Kevin Jex. "So, when they deploy the visor, they’re
distracted by a bunch of papers falling in their laps."
Seeing through the glare
What is an equinox?
As we move toward fall the nights have grown longer and the days
shorter. At the equinox, the day and night are equally 12 hours long.
How it affects the Valley:
1 Valley roads are built on a grid system that aligns
directly north/south and east/west.
2 Because the sun is aligned with the equator during the equinox it
rises in line with eastern roads and sets in line with roads in the
3 The atmosphere acts as a magnifying glass on the light hitting the
Earth. The sun appears largest at sunrise and sunset because it is
traveling though the largest distance of atmosphere.
SOURCE: Montana State University; Tribune research
Ralph Bouwmeester, P. Eng.
R. Bouwmeester & Associates
Barrie, Ontario Canada
(Please call or email for
complete address details)
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