Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Experts warn about increase in deadly vehicle crashes amid rare celestial event - Hindustan Times
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Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Experts warn about increase in deadly vehicle crashes amid rare celestial event

ByArya Vaishnavi
Apr 08, 2024 03:59 PM IST

“In absolute terms, this averaged to 1 extra crash-involved person every 25 minutes and 1 extra crash fatality every 95 minutes,” researchers said

As millions across North America gear up for the rare total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, experts warn about an increased risk of vehicle crashes. During the 2017 eclipse, researchers saw a 31% increase in fatal accidents. At the time, around 12 million people lived within the 70-mile-wide path of totality. On the contrary, the path of totality in 2024 will have an estimated 115-mile band, with an estimated number of 31.6 million already residing there, NASA says.

Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Experts warn about increased risk of fatal vehicular crashes(AP)
Total Solar Eclipse 2024: Experts warn about increased risk of fatal vehicular crashes(AP)

Experts warn of increased risk of deadly road accidents

According to a research paper, “The 2017 total solar eclipse was widely anticipated because the path of totality (locations experiencing a total eclipse) fell within 300 miles of driving distance for a third of all individuals in the U.S.”

“An estimated 20 million people in the U.S. traveled away from home to another city to view the eclipse, resulting in substantial road traffic. We hypothesized that the eclipse was associated with increased risks of a fatal car crash,” researchers added, per Fox News.

It may appear that the brief period of totality, when the sky turns absolutely dark in the middle of the day, could factor into the increased rate of vehicular accidents. However, experts say that the chances of such events arise primarily during travel to observation points and then on the way back home. “In absolute terms, this averaged to 1 extra crash-involved person every 25 minutes and 1 extra crash fatality every 95 minutes,” researchers added.

Dr. Donald Redelmeier, the University of Toronto professor of medicine, told Live Science, “We see a significant decrease during the single hour that involves the eclipse. The problem is the surrounding hours, when people are traveling to their place of observation and especially afterwards,” adding, “We're especially concerned about the drive home.”

The outlet adds that in contrast to the 2017 eclipse, when the path of totality was within a three-hour drive of only three major cities—Portland, St. Louis, and Kansas City—the 2024 eclipse's path will be within three hours of eight major cities, including Toronto, Houston, and Chicago.

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