Monday's solar eclipse might cause a traffic nightmare with congested roads, distracted drivers

Posted at 11:29 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 02:30:47-04

While it might happen just once in a lifetime, the upcoming total solar eclipse has some people worried about about a possible nationwide traffic nightmare.

Most of us probably missed the last total solar eclipse 99 years ago. The next one is happening on Monday August 21, and now federal government officials are worried about potential safety concerns.

Technology has advanced since 1918, when around 6 million cars were on the road. Today, there's well over 200 million. 

Doug Shupe of AAA of Southern California said all those cars on the road could cause widespread traffic jams, especially if people are trying to take pictures or videos of the eclipse while driving.

"The last thing we want to hear about is a tragedy as a result of someone trying to take part in what is a very unique event," Shupe said.

In California, just a partial eclipse will be seen. If you're traveling to a state where it will be seen in totality, Shupe said preparation is key.

That means checking tire and fuel levels and packing emergency food and safety kits before a long trip. 

When the eclipse takes place, pulling over on the side of the road or freeway to observe it is not recommended, and illegal in many scenarios. A parking lot would be an ideal spot to pull over, Shupe said.

"With the eclipse, we want people to enjoy it, but most importantly we want them to enjoy it in a safe location, and that is certainly not behind the wheel of a vehicle," Shupe said.

The bottom line- prepare ahead of time for travel plans and don't try to take pictures or video of the eclipse while driving. And most importantly, don't look at even the partial eclipse without special eclipse glasses.