Avoiding Auto Accidents During the 2017 Solar Eclipse
The 2017 Solar Eclipse is going to pass directly over 10 western Kentucky counties, with NASA projecting an influx of between 100,000 and 500,000 visitors to view the once in a lifetime event. In Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati metro area, we will still be witness to over 90% of the full eclipse event, beginning Aug 21 at 1:01PM, peak around 2:29PM and end by 3:52PM (EDT).
While we are not in the path of totality, Northern Kentucky residents need to be prepared to deal with what has been described as the “biggest driver distraction of the century.” While within the band of 0.9 order of magnitude will not experience the total darkness as those within the path of totality, area residents should prepare for the event.
If at all possible, refrain from driving during the event. If, however, you have to travel, here are some ways to help avoid being in an "eclipse accident" during the 2017 solar eclipse.
Do Not Look At The Sun
Do not look at the sun! Keep your eyes on the road, instead.
Staring at the sun without proper protection may result in solar retinopathy, and the damage caused may not immediately be apparent. Lou Tomososki told People Magazine that he still has vision problems after he burned his retina during the 1962 eclipse.
Even if you have secured a pair of eclipse glasses approved by the American Astronomical Society’s list of Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers, staring at the eclipse while driving is distracted driving. Distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in America in 2015, and turning your eyes off the road is simply unsafe, protected or not.
Keep your eyes on the road.
Maximize Your Visibility
It is important to ensure that you do everything you can to stay visible while on the road during such a distracting event. Ensure that your headlights are on. If you have fog lights, these will add additional visibility for your vehicle in other drivers’ mirrors.
Maximizing your visibility on the road also involves staying where other drivers can see you. Staying out of a driver’s blind spot minimizes the risk of that other car accidentally entering your lane, leaving you with a potential collision with the driver, you hitting another car while attempting to avoid the original driver, or with you going off the road or into a median.
Watch For Other Drivers
Being a responsible driver during such a risky solar event doesn’t mean everyone else will be. Practice defensive driving by actively watching for other drivers, both in front of you and in your mirrors. Watch for unexpected slowdowns or drivers exhibiting erratic behavior in your mirrors.
The greatest potential hazard on the road is a semi-truck. Be particularly attentive to their blind spots. Do not assume that the extra visibility mirrors on a tractor trailer truck increases your safety while driving next to a semi. Semi-truck accidents are among the worst auto accidents on the road -- do not take them for granted.
Motorcycle accidents are commonly caused by a failure of automobile drivers to adequately see an oncoming motorcycle. If you need to merge into another lane, check your mirrors and your blind spot to ensure it is clear of any motorcyclists.
Put Your Phone Away
By now, most people should know that smartphones are one of the greatest causes of distracted driving accidents. Driving during a solar eclipse is no exception.
Putting your phone in your purse, glove compartment or briefcase minimizes your temptation to pull up your phone.
Do not take photos of the solar eclipse with your phone. Not only can this potentially damage your phone, this takes your eyes off the road during a exceptionally risky time to drive.
What To Do If You’re In An Auto Accident During the 2017 Eclipse
If you are involved in an auto accident during the 2017 solar eclipse, particularly if you are injured in a semi-truck accident, it is critical to understand that the first minutes and hours are extremely important.
You can read our guide on what to do after an auto accident, but the key steps are:
- Ensure you are in a safe location
- Contact the police
- Get treatment for any injuries
- Contact your insurance company
- Consider legal representation in the case of serious injury
Note: due to the increased risk of auto accidents during the distracting 2017 solar eclipse, there may be delays and strains on law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. Reach out for help as soon as possible.
If at all possible, stay safe by staying off the roads. If you must, please take every precaution to ensure the safety of you and any passengers.
"Please keep yourself and your family safe by staying off the road during this rare solar eclipse. If you have to drive, exercise extreme caution."James Ryan Turner, Experienced Injury Lawyer in Florence, KY