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Uptick in sun glare-related crashes prompts North Texas police department to put out warning

The Celina police chief said the "handful" of crashes this early fall were enough to put a warning out to the public and educate them with some tips.

CELINA, Texas — The Celina Police Department has noticed an uptick in traffic collisions because of blinding sun glare and as the seasons change.

"A lot of it is going east-west," said Celina Police Chief John Cullison. "With the sun coming up in the morning and going down in the evening it just flips the script. Some people encounter that twice at day."

The chief took WFAA to the Collin County Outer Loop, where some of the blind spots are happening. Cullison said the "handful" of crashes were enough to put a warning out to the public and to educate them with some tips.

"I'm no scientist but when the earth and sun tilt just right, it makes a mess for drivers in Collin County," said Marc Rylander, a 13-year Celina resident.

The following tips were addressed on the department's Facebook page:

  1. Slow down.
  2. Put more distance between you and other vehicles.
  3. Wear or have available polarized sunglasses.
  4. Keep your windshield clean, both inside and out.
  5. Use your vehicle’s sun visor. 
  6. Take an alternate route if possible that has less traffic and or more shade from trees and buildings.

Another tip that can be helpful is asking your employer to let you off 30 minutes or an hour earlier or later to escape the brightest time of your commute.

Bruce Morrell, an astrophotographer in nearby Weston, came to the area about 20 years ago. He built a special garage to house two large telescopic lenses to image the night sky.

"I don't have houses and buildings all around me, it's wide open. That's why I moved out here," said Morrell.

Celina and most of northern Collin County is wide open, which lends itself to having blinding sun glares.

"You can pretty much see horizon to horizon. You're looking straight at the sun and it is horrible," said Morrell.

It's why the chief urges caution. He says most a lot of these crashes are preventable if the driver takes their time, lowers speeds and keeps their space.

"If you're following too closely your reactionary gap is decreased," the chief said.

It's not just a rural problem. Blinding sun glares happen in big cities, too, but there are tall buildings and large trees which can act as buffers.

In fact, people in Celina don't really see it as a problem. It's more of a nuisance that time, or the season, will ultimately solve.

"Here we'd rather have the sunshine than all the big buildings," said Rylander.

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