COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Total Solar Eclipse happens in less than two weeks and the once-in-a-lifetime event could draw one million visitors to South Carolina, which means traffic could be a problem.
The moon will completely cover the sun during an early portion of the afternoon on August 21. There will be minutes of darkness and upwards of one million visitors viewing the eclipse in South Carolina along the path of totality from Greenville to Columbia to Charleston. For state troopers, that means potential for traffic snares.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has advice for drivers as they predict congestion and delays along interstates like I-26 across the state.
Although it's advised anyone who wishes to view the eclipse do so through special protective glasses, troopers warn drivers not to wear them while driving. Trooper David Jones said the glasses blackout light necessary for driving. Jones said it's best to exit the interstate in order to look up at the sun using the glasses.
"So on that day, when it starts to go dark, don't stop on the roadway. Not only is it illegal, you can get a ticket for it," Jones said.
The Highway Patrol is preparing for the eclipse. There will be troopers stationed along interstates like I-26, ready to respond to crashes and relieve congestion.
"If congestion becomes extreme, at the point of standstill, that we will be in a posture along key portions of interstate, to relieve that pressure by diverting traffic," Major Rob Woods said.
Troopers are set to patrol at maximum strength, which means 160 troopers plus those regularly staffed for traffic, to make up an 'Eclipse Incident Action Plan.'
Jones said there are also things drivers can do to prepare, like remain patient and calm, but also to try to leave for home on the Tuesday following the eclipse rather than on Monday at rush hour.