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Thursday, May 23, 2024

As eclipse nears, state agencies encourage driver safety on the roads

State officials are encouraging drivers to be prepared for delays and other traffic related incidents on Aug. 21 (Port City Daily photo/FILE)
State officials are encouraging drivers to be prepared for delays and other traffic related incidents on Aug. 21 (Port City Daily photo/FILE)

WILMINGTON — With only five days left until the solar eclipse of 2017,  the North Carolina Department of Transportation and State Highway Patrol are encouraging would-be stargazers to exercise caution while on the roads.

The eclipse will span the entire continuous United States, starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. It’s the first countrywide eclipse in nearly a century.

Although Wilmington and the surrounding areas will not see totality, or a 100 percent solar eclipse, this area is scheduled to see 97 percent of the eclipse, which could still attract visitors.

“A total solar eclipse will be visible in the western portion of North Carolina, drawing several visitors from surrounding states.  Authorities are encouraging onlookers to arrive early for the event in an attempt to decrease the number of vehicles on the roadways at one time,” according to a highway patrol press release.

Highway patrol encourages people to arrive to their viewing sites early, and to expect heavy traffic the day of the eclipse. It is also suggested to plan alternate routes to a destination and have food and water available.

During the eclipse, do not stop in the roadway to see the event and refrain from parking on the shoulder or medians on the road.

For safe viewing of the eclipse, doctors as well as NASA recommend using certified eclipse viewing glasses, while the glasses will allow the wearer to view the sun without the threat of burning a hole in the viewers retina, users should not wear the glasses while driving.

Brian Rick with the NCDOT also emphasized the importance of safety during the event. While the DOT cannot be sure of the impact on traffic in the Greater Wilmington Area, Rick said there is the possibility people who might be travelling to South Carolina will stop in Wilmington instead.

He also emphasized for drivers to not try and view the eclipse while driving, and avoid stopping on any roadway. Drivers should also activate headlights during the eclipse.

Travelers can check traffic information online, and asked to avoid calling 911 or *HP (*47) for non-emergency situations.

Michael Praats can be reached via email at

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