Utah. If you’re planning on driving to see the total solar eclipse set to take place on Monday, August 21st, prepare yourself for a magnificent and rare celestial phenomenon—and also for a traffic jam of celestial proportions. According to Time Magazine, federal and state officials are working against the clock to raise traffic awareness and to ready the communities and roads that will experience what is known as “totality” or the moment the moon crosses in front of the sun, plunging the world into nighttime—in the middle of the day.
Federal and officials in areas that will experience totality are concerned about two things. First, some areas will be seeing an unprecedented number of “umbraphiles” or totality chasers, flocking to the narrow span of land of about 60 to 70 miles across the country that will cross the shadow of the moon. The second concern is that totality might cause accidents as the world is suddenly, and unexpectedly, for some, plunged into total darkness.
The last time America saw a cross-country solar eclipse was in 1918. Cars weren’t as common then, so there’s no precedent for the sheer number of cars that might hit the road on Monday to see the celestial event. Federal officials note that the eclipse will cross 29 Interstates. Some states have already declared a state of emergency. For example, Oregon expects to see one million people enter the area of totality. Given that the state only normally has 4 million residents, Oregon officials are expecting major traffic backups, and possible shortages of gas, water, and other necessities. In fact, according to K5 News, the Oregon Department of Transportation is preparing for an event it believes might be the biggest road event to occur in the state’s history.
Traffic officials are warning people who think traffic will be mild. To put it into perspective, one Alabama news outlet noted that 200 million people, or about two-thirds of the nation’s population live within a single day’s drive of the path of totality.
So, what can you do if you are traveling to see the eclipse? Be prepared. Experts are saying that traffic jams in some places could possibly last hours, or even all day. Bring enough food and water to last a couple of days, especially if you plan to travel to some of the desert or remote areas where totality will occur. Bring extra medications, a first aid kit, cell phone and charger, and extra cash. Finally, some obvious, but serious, things to consider: don’t wear eclipse glasses while driving, don’t park on the shoulder of the road to see totality, and avoid distracted driving—this includes looking out your car window to see the eclipse!
The Truman Law Firm are personal injury lawyers in Utah who wish all drivers a safe and incredible eclipse week. However, keep your safety and the safety of loved ones in mind. Visit our website at trumanlawfirm.com to learn more about road safety tips and what you and your loved ones can do if you are injured in a car accident over this busy travel weekend.