United States

Solar Eclipse 2024 Warnings: Safety Concerns, Traffic Congestion, Air Travel Impact, And Beware Of Fake Glasses!

As anticipation builds for the upcoming solar eclipse of 2024, so do the warnings and concerns surrounding safety, traffic congestion, and air travel disruptions. With millions preparing to witness this celestial event, ensuring preparedness and caution becomes paramount.

Marcos Brindicci/ AP
Solar Eclipse 2024 Warnings Photo: Marcos Brindicci/ AP

As the highly anticipated total solar eclipse approaches, the excitement is accompanied by a growing number of safety concerns and warnings, both in the sky and on the ground. Recent warnings in late March have highlighted potential hazards such as counterfeit eclipse glasses, the increased risk of car accidents during the event, and potential disruptions to air travel with delayed or cancelled flights.

Safety remains paramount during solar eclipses, as millions of people will gaze skyward as the moon moves across the sun. Proper eye protection, such as specialized glasses, is essential to prevent eye damage. Additionally, a surge of tourists from across the country is expected to converge on a narrow strip of land spanning from Texas to Maine—the path of totality—where the moon's shadow will cast the Earth into darkness.

Solar Eclipse 2024 Safety

Warning Regarding Fake Eclipse Glasses

In a statement released in late March, the American Astronomical Society has issued a warning regarding the proliferation of counterfeit and fake eclipse glasses in the market.

The AAS emphasizes the dangers of using these fake glasses, or worse, not using any eye protection at all, during the eclipse. Overexposure to sunlight "can cause severe eye injury, ranging from temporarily impaired vision to permanent blindness," the AAS cautioned. They advise purchasing glasses from reputable vendors and conducting thorough testing before the eclipse event.

It's worth noting that you might have the opportunity to obtain a free pair of eclipse glasses.

Traffic Congestion and Risk of Deadly Accidents

Expectations indicate that traffic conditions could deteriorate significantly and pose potential dangers, particularly after the eclipse ends. With millions of people converging into the narrow path of totality, the mass exodus following the event's conclusion is anticipated to create congestion and increase the risk of deadly accidents.

Experts caution that the heightened excitement surrounding the event could lead to dangerous and congested automobile traffic situations as crowds flock to the limited geographic areas offering optimal views.

The epicenter of the eclipse's path is expected to experience particularly heavy traffic, as Americans seeking prime viewing spots converge on cities, towns, and remote locations, many of which lack the necessary infrastructure to accommodate large crowds.

In Texas, where the influx of crowds is anticipated to be most significant, the state's Department of Transportation is taking measures to address the situation. This includes installing highway signs with messages such as "NO STOPPING ON HIGHWAY TO VIEW ECLIPSE” and “NO PARKING ON SHOULDER, KEEP MOVING."

Additionally, road construction and maintenance activities along major corridors within the eclipse's path will be temporarily halted from April 7 to April 9, aligning with expected traffic volumes during this period.

During the total solar eclipse that crossed over the U.S. in 2017, it was reported that certain areas experienced prolonged traffic congestion, with some traffic jams lasting for more than 12 hours!

Furthermore, a recent study revealed that the 2017 eclipse "was associated with increased risks of a fatal traffic crash", potentially resulting in up to a 31% increase, according to the study's findings.

Impact on Air Travel

In anticipation of the eclipse, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is providing instructions to both commercial and private aircrafts.

"Due to the high volume of traffic along the eclipse path, (airport) arrivals can expect lengthy delays during peak traffic periods," the FAA said.

According to the FAA, these airports will be particularly impacted by the eclipse.

  • Texas

  • Vermont

  • Maine

  • Canada

  • New Hampshire

  • Indiana

  • Ohio

  • Pennsylvania

  • Oklahoma

  • Arkansas

  • Illinois

  • Kentucky

  • Missouri

"The purpose of this notice is to inform airmen of the possible impacts to air traffic and airports along the eclipse path during the period April 7, 2024, (6 a.m. EST) through April 10, 2024, (midnight EST)," stated the FAA.