Drivers Urged to Stay Alert While Driving on Monday, August 21
On Monday, August 21, many parts of the country will experience a total solar eclipse, an event which has not occurred since June 8, 1918. The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) expect increased traffic volumes along I-95, MD 295 and US 1, as people travel to prime-viewing locations beginning Friday, August 18.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), approximately 200 million people (a little less than 2/3 the nation’s population) live within a day’s drive of the path of the total eclipse. Maryland is expected to get an 83 percent “partial” eclipse and nighttime-like conditions beginning at 1:18 p.m., with maximum coverage at 2:42 p.m. and ending at 4:01 p.m.
FHWA, MDOT SHA and MDTA offer the following travel advice:
• Don’t stop along the interstate or park on the shoulder during the event.
• Don’t take photographs while driving – keep your attention on the road ahead.
• Don’t try to wear opaque eclipse glasses while operating a vehicle.
• Turn your headlights on -- do not rely on your automatic headlights when the eclipse blocks out the sun.
• Use extra caution if your travels take you through a work zone during the eclipse.
• Watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists. People may be randomly parking and walking alongside the roadside during the time of the eclipse to get a good view.
• Prepare for extra congestion, especially on the interstates the day before, day of and day after the eclipse.
• Avoid travel during the eclipse or in an area with expected eclipse viewers.
MDOT SHA and MDTA will be monitoring traffic conditions closely from the 24-hour-a day/seven day a week Statewide Operations Center near BWI Marshall Airport.
NASA also offers advice to those who want to watch the solar eclipse:
• Wear opaque eclipse glasses when viewing the eclipse. Sunglasses do not provide the same protection.
• Do not look at the eclipse through a camera lens, telescope or binoculars even if you are wearing eclipse glasses.
• Do not look at the sun directly as this can cause significant and permanent eye damage.
To explore more about the rare full solar eclipse of 2017, visit the following website: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/eclipse.htm.