By Abrahm Hurt
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Department of Transportation officials are advising Hoosiers to be aware of increased traffic for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
Approximately 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the nearest total eclipse path, which is why INDOT is expecting traffic congestion before and after the eclipse in and around southwest Indiana.
The last time most Americans experienced a total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States was in 1979 and the last time a total solar eclipse crossed the entire country was in 1918. NASA estimates that 391 million people will view the eclipse in a total or partial form this year.
Highlight of the roads that could experience an increase of traffic because of the eclipse. Map provide by the Indiana Department of Transportation
A total solar eclipse can be experienced by anyone along the path of totality that stretches from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. The closest place to Indiana that falls on the path of totality is Morganfield, Kentucky which is about 35 miles south of Evansville.
Anyone in North America will be able to view the eclipse in some way, shape or form with the proper safety glasses beginning shortly before 1 p.m. and ending a little before 4 p.m.
With the increased opportunity to view a total solar eclipse, traffic is expected to increase along interstates and highways.
Interstate 69, U.S. 41 and U.S. 231 are expected to experience increased traffic in southbound lanes before the event as motorists head for Western Kentucky. The moon’s full eclipse of the sun can be viewed within a 70-mile-wide swath encompassing Hopkinsville, Paducah and Madison, Kentucky. After the event, northbound traffic on these routes will increase.
Interstate 65 will also see increased traffic going to and from total eclipse vantage points that begin at Bowling Green, Kentucky and extend beyond Nashville, Tennessee.
INDOT’s do’s and don’ts for the eclipse are:
- Don’t take pictures while driving
- Don’t wear eclipse glasses while driving
- Don’t stop along the interstate or park on the shoulder
- Do turn your headlights on during the eclipse event
- If you are driving to view the eclipse, allow extra travel time
- Make plans now for overnight accommodations — overnight camping is prohibited at rest areas
Those wanting to experience the solar eclipse can view NASA’s interactive map to find times and places to view the eclipse.
For purchasing solar eclipse glasses, reputable vendors and sellers can be found through the American Astronomical Society. Glasses can be found at stores such as Lowe’s, Kroger and Walmart.
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.