Will Monday's eclipse lead to accidents, and sales?

April 2024 solar eclipse map for U.S.

A total solar eclipse will cross North America on Monday. The path of totality will cross from the southwestern Mexico coast on a steady northeastern track, entering the United States in Texas and continuing forward across the country until entering Canada near Niagara Falls. NASA reports cities expected to be in eclipse’s band of totality include Dallas, Indianapolis, Buffalo and Montreal, Canada.

The first solar eclipse visible in the United States since 2017, NASA states during the eclipse people within the band of totality witness a surreal experience.

“The sky will darken, as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the sun,” NASA reports.

Yet exciting as the eclipse may be, it also can be hazardous, particularly for anyone on the road during the experience.

NASA states that except during the very brief “total phase” of the eclipse when the moon completely blocks the sun, it is not safe to look at the sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing. NASA states “viewing any part of the bright sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.”

That’s why trucking and travel organizations are working to inform drivers in advance.

AAA posted a lift of safety recommendations for all travelers, among which it notes drivers should not wear eclipse glasses while driving but should keep their headlights on and use their sun visor to block any direct view of the sun. Drivers also should be aware of erratic drivers, and pedestrians who may be looking toward the sky and not safely monitoring roadways.  

In Arkansas, where the path of totality will cover a large swath of the state, transportation officials in December urged a trucking holiday.

“Severe congestion is expected on the entire Arkansas State Highway System during the Eclipse, to such an extent that the day may be mostly unproductive for freight vehicles,” Arkansas’ Department of Transportation (ArDOT) stated. “ArDOT will engage the Arkansas Trucking Association in an effort to encourage truckers to adjust their travel schedule, so they are not trapped on the roadways with eclipse-related traffic. Like other TDM (Traffic Demand Management) strategies discussed, this will be a voluntary decision on the part of the commercial drivers with no penalty for those who decide to operate during the eclipse.”

In the parts and service sector, the eclipse should not have an impact on business operations but could lead to a slight uptick in sales if eclipse-related accidents occur. Sudden stops by drivers witnessing the eclipse have been warned by state trucking associations across the country. Businesses within the path of totality should prepare accordingly.

Additionally, NASA recommends anyone interested in witnessing the eclipse procure Safe Solar Viewers, and warns against purchasing fake glasses that do not meet the ISO international standard.

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