For the first time in 16 years, the moon’s orbit will pass across the face of the sun for over two hours on Friday 20th March, right in the middle of the morning rush hour.
The partial eclipse will see up to 97% of the sun blocked from view across the UK. Drivers in London are expected to see 84% of the sun covered. The proportion of sun covered by the moon will be higher in the north, with Manchester expected to see an 89% eclipse and 94% in Glasgow. The most complete eclipse will be seen from Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.
As the skies get darker during peak-time traffic, it is imperative that drivers check their headlights are working and use them.
The partial eclipse is due to begin in London at 8.24am, peaking at 9.31am when the moon is closest to the centre of the sun. The moon is expected to clear the sun’s edge, ending the eclipse at 10.41am.
As well as darkness, the major concern for is for drivers to become distracted and take their eyes off the road for just a few seconds to look at the eclipse. Doing so could cause dazzled vision, serious damage to the eyesight and even permanent blindness from the sun’s scorching rays. Distraction is acknowledged as being a key factor in many road traffic incidents.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has stated that there is no safe way to view an eclipse directly. Wearing sunglasses will offer minimal protection as the sun’s rays can still burn the retina. The message to all drivers is ‘keep your eyes on the road’.