Why this is the most dangerous time of year to drive during sunrise or sunset

Youngstown Weather

Freight transportation truck on the road at golden hour

(WKBN) — If you travel on a road that goes due east in the morning, or due west in the evening, you may struggle to see as the sun directly hits your eyes. This is the most dangerous time of the year for the sun to stream through your windshield during sunrise and sunset if you’re driving east or west.

Due to the tilt of the earth, and the orbit around the sun, the angle and elevation of sunrise and sunset changes.

During the winter, the sun sets farther south on the horizon. During the summer, the sun sets farther to the northwest on the horizon. During the equinox, the sun sets just about due west on the horizon.

This happens twice a year — once in the spring and then once in the fall. The reverse is true for sunrise to the east.

The winter season also features the lowest elevation of the sun during the day. This can actually make it harder to see as well as the angle of the sun in your windshield will be more direct through the late afternoon, or early morning, for a longer period of time.

The equinox season features a lower setting/rising sun that is located either due east, or due west, each day. That is why this is the most dangerous time of the year to travel these directions if the sky is clear, and the blinding sun is in your eyes.

Of course, if the road travels northwest/east or southwest/east during other times of the year, especially into the winter with the lower elevation of the sun, the direct line of sight can cause trouble too.

Below are a few locations to look at during the start of each season if you’re wondering where the sun will set or rise each day.

Each direction on the compass has a corresponding degree:

Below is a guide for you to follow on the compass:
North = 0° or 360°
NE = 45°
E = 90°
SE = 135°
S = 180°
SW = 225°
W = 270°
NW = 315°

This will help when looking at the sun’s angle in relation to you during the day. Keep in mind the degrees are in direct relation the the direction and location of the sun.

Sun location at Sunset on the first day of the seasons in Youngstown, Ohio:

Winter
239° west/southwest
Spring
270° west
Summer
302° west/northwest
Fall
270° west

Sun location at sunrise on the first day of the seasons in Youngstown, Ohio:
Season Sun Angle
Winter
121° east/southeast
Spring
89° east
Summer
57° east/northeast
Fall
89° east

You may also notice this change in your home as the sun may show through some windows during the summer, but not the winter.

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