AAA releases solar eclipse driving tips

The view of Cavanal Hill from U.S. Highway 59 headed into Poteau.
AAA Writer

The first cross-country solar eclipse since the advent of the automobile is heading our way Aug. 21. And, while it won’t shroud Oklahoma in complete darkness, drivers will see and feel the difference while on the road, which could lead to some distracted driving behavior.
Most of Oklahoma will experience 80 to 90 percent obstruction of sunlight over the lunch hour on Aug. 21 when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.
“As spectacular as this once-in-a-lifetime event will be, if you happen to catch a glimpse of it while behind the wheel, by all means, don’t turn your eyes away from the road,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. 

“Aside from damaging your eyes, looking at the eclipse while driving is distracted driving at its worst.  In fact, AAA recommends staying off the road during the eclipse. But if you have to drive keep sun visors and cell phones down to protect your eyes, don’t give in to the temptation to look at the sun, and avoid all distractions.”
AAA warns to expect traffic jams:
• Sky gazers could take to the roads at the last minute, looking for a good view of the eclipse.
• Aug. 21 is still summer vacation time for many — there may be increased travel (and subsequently traffic) up to and including Aug. 21.
• Pack your patience, whether traveling great distance or locally, people will be out and about to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

AAA driver safety tips during the solar eclipse:
• Keep headlights on.
• Put the sun visor down to block your view of the sun.
• Don’t wear eclipse glasses while driving.
• Don’t try to photograph or video the eclipse while driving.
• Don’t pull over to the side of the road, highway or interstate to view the eclipse.
• Exit the roadway and park in a safe area away from traffic to view the eclipse.
• Be alert to the possibility of distracted drivers swerving into your lane.
—   Other drivers may be attempting to watch the eclipse and drive at the same time.
—   To help prevent trouble, keep additional space between you and other vehicles.
—  Reduce your speed so you will have more time to make an emergency maneuver if needed.
• Be mindful of pedestrians that may be walking around with their eyes on the sky.

NASA reports that the eclipse will first be visible in Lincoln Beach, Ore., at 11:05 a.m. Oklahoma time, with a total eclipse occurring at 12:16 p.m., Oklahoma time. Over the next hour and a half, the total eclipse will pass over 14 states, ending near Charleston, S.C. at 1:48 p.m., Oklahoma time.