Local media outlets,including the Geneva Finger Lakes Times, report that four people were injured when a car rear-ended their horse-drawn buggy in Gorham, Ontario County. Both vehicles were headed southeast on County Road 18 about 8:30 in the morning of December 28. The driver of the car, Stephen M. Bara, 58, of County Road 18, says the morning sun glare prevented him from seeing the buggy in time to avoid the collision. The car crash seems to have been severe; the buggy was destroyed and the horse had to be put down. The buggy driver and passengers appear to have suffered serious head and back injuries. Two of the four were airlifted by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
This unfortunate accident illustrates two roadway dangers: (1) horse-drawn buggies, which are quite prevalent among the Mennonite community in the Penn Yan and Gorham area of Yates and Ontario Counties; and (2) sun glare in the morning and evening hours.
Horse-drawn buggies present a danger because they move much more slowly than automobiles along the roadway, and drivers sometimes don’t notice them in time to react. But failing to see them is not a legally acceptable excuse. A driver is required to see what there is to be seen on the roadway. A driver paying attention should easily spot a horse-drawn buggy, especially from behind, since they are required to display the orange slow-moving-vehicle triangle on the back. Just like bicycles, horse drawn vehicles are legally entitled to share the road with motorists, and motorists are required to notice them and respect their rights.
As for sun glare, all motorists know that glare can obliterate from their view traffic control devices (stop signs, traffic lights, etc), pedestrians, bicycles, buggies, and other objects in the roadway. A car accident lawyer evaluating a sun-glare auto-accident case needs to consider many factors, including: the time of day, road direction, latitude and longitude, sunrise and sunset times for the day of the year, the path of the sun, the weather conditions, windshield transmission, whether the driver had sun glasses on hand, whether he was wearing them, whether he used his visor to block the glare, and many other factors as well. In our experience with car accident injury cases, a driver does not usually prevail at trial in attempting to shield himself from liability for causing a car accident by claiming that “sun glare” was the culprit. Almost always he will be found at least partially at fault for, among other things, not slowing down or pulling over when sun glare prevented him from seeing the roadway, failing to use sunglasses or failing to use his visor. Simply put, cars are dangerous machines, and a driver should not move his vehicle forward unless he can see everything there is to be seen in the roadway ahead.