Warning of a solar eclipse due to “fatal” accidents.

Warning of a solar eclipse due to “fatal” accidents.

Motorists may need to prepare to travel during the total solar eclipse scheduled for April 8, as research has found that fatal collisions increased during the recent eclipse that darkened US skies.

There was a 31% rise in fatal traffic crashes during the 2017 total eclipse and in the days before and after it, according to a new research letter published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers say this is primarily due to the influx of people driving across the country to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

Solar eclipse
Stock image of a car accident (main) and a solar eclipse (inset). In 2017, deaths from car accidents increased during the days before and after a total solar eclipse.

iStock/Getty Images Plus

The 2017 eclipse, which occurred on August 21, passed southeast from the Pacific Northwest through South Carolina, while the 2024 eclipse will begin in Texas and pass over the Midwest and New England.

“For the eclipse on April 8, totality will last a maximum of 4 minutes and 27 seconds, although this will depend on where a person is viewing from within the path. The duration of totality will vary slightly between the Pacific coast of Mexico and the coast of Mexico.” “Newfoundland is in Canada,” said Ryan Milligan, a lecturer in astrophysics at Queen’s University Belfast. Newsweek. “However, since the moon’s shadow is circular, this will also depend on how close it is to the center of the path. The closer it is to the center, the longer it will be.”

The total area in 2017 was only about 70 miles wide, but researchers found that traffic fatality rates increased from an average of 7.9 per hour during the weeks before and after to an average of 10.3 per hour in the three days spanning the eclipse.

“The 2017 total solar eclipse was widely anticipated because the path of totality (the locations witnessing a total eclipse) fell within 300 miles of the driving distance of one-third of all people in the United States. An estimated 20 million people in the United States traveled as far as Their homes moved to another city to view the eclipse, resulting in significant road traffic,” the authors wrote in the paper. “We hypothesized that the eclipse was associated with an increased risk of a fatal traffic accident.”

Therefore, rather than increased crashes due to the instantaneous period of darkness caused by a total eclipse, the increased crashes may have been caused by increased volume of drivers on the roads. This is a similar increase in traffic deaths as seen on other days when more people drive, such as Thanksgiving and other holidays like Memorial Day, or the 4th of July weekend.

“In absolute terms, this averaged one additional person involved in a crash every 25 minutes and one additional fatality every 95 minutes,” the researchers wrote.

They also found that the riskiest period on roads was in the hours immediately after totality, when there was a risk 50% higher than average.

Researchers are concerned that a similar problem could arise during the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8, during which more than 200 million people across the United States will be within driving range of the totality’s path.

Other factors involved in the increase in fatalities may be traveling along unfamiliar roads, viewing the eclipse from unsafe roadside locations, and speeding to reach the viewing destination on time. Alcohol and drugs at festive events may also play a role.

The authors warn motorists to be safe in the days before and after the eclipse to avoid a repeat of 2017’s high death rate.

“To help prevent another potential increase in traffic fatalities, doctors may advise patients to respect speed limits, reduce distractions, allow greater headway, wear a seat belt, and avoid driving while impaired. More broadly, stakeholders should work toward A transportation system that reduces collision risks, tolerates human error, and improves the recovery process after an accident.”These population-based interventions may prevent eclipse-related deaths and potentially save lives year-round.”

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