Young Drivers and The Solar Eclipse: Safety Comes First

Young Drivers and The Solar Eclipse: Safety Comes First

For the solar eclipse happening on Monday, April 8, 2024, amidst the excitement and wonder of this celestial event, it's crucial to recognize the potential dangers of driving during it. Young Drivers of Canada has requested driving instructors to not perform in-vehicle lessons from 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm on Monday, April 8. Reasons to prioritize safety and refrain from driving while the eclipse is underway include:

1. Visual Distractions

One of the primary dangers of driving during a solar eclipse is the temptation to glance at the sun, even fleetingly, without proper eye protection. The allure of witnessing the celestial event firsthand may lead drivers to take their eyes off the road, increasing the risk of collisions due to visual distractions. Even a momentary lapse in attention can have serious consequences on the road.

2. Decreased Visibility

During a solar eclipse, the sky darkens as the moon obscures the sun, resulting in reduced visibility on the roads. The sudden change in lighting conditions can catch drivers off guard, making it challenging to see other vehicles, pedestrians, or potential hazards on the roadway. Poor visibility increases the likelihood of collisions, especially in areas with heavy traffic or complex road layouts.

“Researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed road traffic data from the 2017 solar eclipse and found there were more than 1,000 additional road deaths across the US three days before and after the cosmic event.”

3. Potential Traffic Congestion

Solar eclipses often attract crowds of spectators, leading to increased traffic congestion on highways, roads, and scenic routes near prime viewing locations. Navigating through congested areas during an eclipse can be stressful and time-consuming, with the added risk of rear-end collisions, fender benders, or gridlock. Avoiding unnecessary travel during peak eclipse times can help minimize the risk of getting stuck in traffic jams.

4. Unpredictable Behavior of Other Drivers

The excitement and anticipation surrounding a solar eclipse can influence the behavior of other drivers on the road. Some motorists may attempt to view the eclipse while driving, engage in erratic maneuvers, or stop abruptly on the roadside, creating hazardous conditions for themselves and others. YD’s Defensive driving techniques, such as maintaining a safe following distance and staying alert to the actions of nearby vehicles, become even more critical during eclipse events. 

“In the hour leading up to the event [in 2017], the number of crashes rose above average but dropped to below average during the eclipse and then shot up to a shocking 50 percent above average afterward

5. Eye Safety Concerns

Looking directly at the sun, particularly during an eclipse, can cause irreversible damage to the eyes. The intense solar radiation emitted during an eclipse can burn the delicate tissues of the retina, leading to permanent vision loss or even blindness. While certified solar viewing glasses offer protection for safe observation, attempting to view the eclipse while driving compromises eye safety and puts drivers and passengers at risk.


While the allure of witnessing a solar eclipse firsthand is undeniable, safety should always be the top priority on the road. Driving during a solar eclipse poses significant risks to both drivers and passengers. Instead of risking safety for a glimpse of the celestial event, consider alternative ways to experience the eclipse safely, such as attending organized viewing events or observing from a stationary location away from traffic. By exercising caution and making responsible choices, Young Drivers of Canada encourages that everyone stays safe while enjoying the wonders of the universe. For more information about Young Drivers and courses offered, please visit www.yd.com