A recent⁤ report ⁣warns that the total⁤ solar eclipse on April 8 ​could lead to an increase in‌ fatal car crashes. While eclipse-related eye injuries are ​more commonly discussed, the last⁣ total solar eclipse in North America, the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017, ⁤saw a‍ brief but significant ‌increase in fatal crashes. This increase was not‌ due to‍ the daytime darkness caused⁢ by the eclipse, but rather the surrounding ‍hours when people were traveling to and from their ⁢viewing locations.

Concerns during the Eclipse

Dr. Donald Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at​ the University of ⁣Toronto and a ⁢staff physician at the Sunnybrook Health ⁤Sciences Centre, explained that the significant decrease in ⁢crashes during the single hour ⁤of‌ the⁢ eclipse is followed⁢ by a surge in crashes during the hours when people are traveling home. This‍ is a particular concern ⁤for the ⁣upcoming April⁣ 8 eclipse, as viewers within the path of totality‍ will be able to witness the eclipse for about 2.5‌ to 4.5 minutes, ‌depending ⁣on their location.

Heavy Traffic and Life-Threatening Accidents

Given the ⁤heavy traffic generated by the 2017‍ eclipse, Redelmeier and co-author Dr. John Staples, a clinical associate professor at the University of British ‌Columbia, wanted to ‍investigate if it was tied to ‍life-threatening road accidents. They analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, focusing on the three-day⁢ window surrounding the Aug. 21, 2017 eclipse. They found that the eclipse⁤ was tied to a 31% ⁤increase in fatal crashes, compared to the two comparison time windows.‍ This increase is similar to what’s seen around ‍major‍ travel holidays, such as ⁢Thanksgiving⁢ and July 4th weekend.

Recommendations for Safe Travel

In‍ light of these findings,‌ Redelmeier recommends adhering ‍to standard safety strategies during the April 8 eclipse. These measures include adhering to speed limits, minimizing distractions while ⁢driving, signaling turns and lane changes, and ‌wearing seat belts. It’s​ important to note that the⁣ study only⁣ highlighted‍ fatal crashes, and‍ it’s ‌likely that the eclipse traffic ⁣was also ⁤tied to‌ less-severe ‌accidents. The data did not ⁤differentiate between those who traveled to⁢ watch‍ the⁣ eclipse and‍ those who ⁤didn’t but were ​nonetheless ‌caught⁢ in ⁤eclipse-related ⁤traffic.