Know before you go: How to be a safe driver during Monday’s solar eclipse
This Monday, Aug. 21, the moon will move between the Earth and the sun and, for the first time in nearly a century, residents across the U.S. will view a total solar eclipse. And though not all U.S. residents will be able to view the total eclipse, about 200 million of them live within a day’s drive of the eclipse’s path. In the interest of our favorite hashtag – #roadsafety – there are some dos and don’ts drivers should follow to ensure safe travels for all.
Solar eclipse: The 4-1-1
This path of the solar eclipse – where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere, the corona – will stretch from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. Observers outside of this path will be able to see a partial solar eclipse. Traffic around the path of the eclipse is expected to be congested on Monday, and those needing to drive that day will be tempted to glance up at the event. As such, regardless of location, looking up at the eclipse without eye protection is extremely dangerous. Doing so would cause permanent injury to your retina within 100 seconds, as the naked eye is insufficiently prepared to take in all that ultraviolet light at once.
Follow these tips to ensure your safety behind the wheel on Monday:
DO NOT pull over to the shoulder of the roadway you’re driving on to view the eclipse. Instead, look for the nearest exit to take, or parking lot to pull into, and properly park your car in a designated space. Additionally, if you’re in the West, DO NOT drive on grass or through an open field to get a good spot, or to avoid traffic. That’s a quick way to start a wildfire.
DO bring the appropriate eye wear you’ll need to view the eclipse before you leave the house. NASA has these tips to finding – or creating – sufficient eyewear.
DO NOT wear opaque eclipse glasses while operating a vehicle. Use them only after you have safely parked your car.
DO look out for pedestrians along smaller roads. People may randomly park and walk along the road in the hours around the eclipse to get the best view.
DO plan for congested roadways, especially on the highways in the direct path of the eclipse the day before, the day of, and the day after the eclipse. And bring a map with you in case you find yourself with no GPS accessibility.
The more you plan ahead for Monday’s eclipse, the safer you’ll be. See what eclipse-themed activities are being held in your region, and be sure to visit NASA’s solar eclipse site for partial and total eclipse times across the U.S.