Total Solar Eclipse 2017: 10 Tips to Enjoy Totality

Solar eclipse safety tips include: (1) finding the right eyewear, (2) viewing from a safe location, and (3) making sure your car is ready for the trip.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: May 15, 2020

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Total solar eclipses are rare but not in the way you might think. Over the next seven years, there are six total solar eclipses. However, because over 70 percent of our planet is covered in water, the bulk of these eclipses happen over water or lower population areas.

Your chance of seeing a total solar eclipse in your area is a once every 375 years phenomena. If you miss this eclipse, you would have to travel to see another one. Also, what makes this such a rare occurrence is the path it’s taking over the United States. This total solar eclipse is traveling north to south and east to west across major cities and highways. That’s why we’re here.

Start comparison shopping today for the right policy for your needs.

Traffic Projections

Many publications are calling this a possible “traffic nightmare.” A total solar eclipse hasn’t made it path east to west across the United States in almost 100 years. Plan for the worst if you are considering driving.

The last occurrence was in 1918 — which means travel has changed a lot. We now have major highways spanning the country, and there are 263 million drivers on our roads.

Fourteen states and 33 highways (see the Table here) will be in the path of this total solar eclipse. If you want to know how much eclipse you will see, visit the Courier-Journal’s interactive tool.

  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming

Right now estimates are 1.7 to seven million drivers will commute into the path of the total eclipse. And who knows if these estimates are accurate? The US Department of Transportation states, “Approximately 200 million people (a little less than 2⁄3 the nation’s population) live within a day’s drive of the path of this total eclipse.”

If even slightly higher fraction of those 200 million people decides to travel on the day of the total eclipse, our roads and highways will turn into a temporary parking lot. You can also view real time traffic updates via this web app.

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10 Safety Tips for Enjoying the Solar Eclipse

#1 – Turn on Your Lights Manually

Be proactive. Because of the nature of this event, expect that your car may not operate properly. Even a few seconds delay with your lights coming on a heavily trafficked highway could cause major accidents.

It’s also been noted that animals react to totality, so you may have sudden movement on roadsides or animals acting frantic around major roads. Having your lights on ahead of time will allow you to react appropriately in an emergency situation.

#2 – Do Not Stop on Roads to Watch the Eclipse

Stopping along the roads with the expected congestion could be a deadly mistake. All it would take is one distracted driver or, as mentioned above, one set of headlights to not work.

If you plan on stopping, find a safe location away from the traffic to enjoy the total eclipse.

#3 – Be Alert

Distracted driving is a major issue on our highways. One recent study stated, “Distracted driving occurred during 52 percent of trips that resulted in a crash.” This total solar eclipse will only compound the opportunity for distracted driving.

Please do not take pictures while you drive, and do not wear eclipse glasses while driving to view the eclipse.

You should be on high alert for bystanders on the side of the ride. If at all possible, we recommend avoiding driving through the path of eclipse when it is happening.

Also, it’s worth noting that with the increased traffic, response time from emergency service may be longer than usual. Only call 911 in an absolute emergency.

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#4 – Have the Right Eyewear

Glasses used must meet ISO 12312-2 safety standards to view the eclipse directly. According to NASA, you should not use

  • color film
  • some non-silver black and white film
  • medical x-ray films with images on them
  • smoked glass
  • photographic neutral density filters and polarizing filters
  • Solar filters designed to thread into eyepieces

On the flip side, they recommend using:

  • Projection – Which is the safest and least expensive
  • Filters – Like a #14 (or darker) welder’s glass
  • Telescopes with solar filters – Must be sun specific

You can also wear approved eclipse eyewear over your regular glasses. Please visit NASA’s “Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers” for safe eclipse eyewear.

#5 – Do Not Leave Children in the Car During the Eclipse

Even with the temperature dropping during this solar event, do not leave children or pets in the car. Especially with the increased possibility of congestion and emergency events, do not take the chance even for the two to three minutes of the total eclipse.

Two to three minutes could turn into several hours under emergency circumstances.

#6 – Have an Emergency Kit

Having an emergency kit could be a matter of life or death. You don’t always want to be fretting of the worse case scenario, but in the event where many states are preparing for emergencies, it would be wise to also make preparations.

We recommend putting together a comprehensive emergency kit:

  • First Aid Kit
  • GPS system
  • Smartphone
  • Portable external cell phone charger
  • Flashlight
  • EZ-Pass
  • Window Breaker
  • Seatbelt Cutter
  • Water
  • Map
  • Paracord
  • Flares
  • Sanitation Supplies
  • MRE Meals
  • Knife
  • Extra Batteries
  • Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Whistle
  • Prescription Meds
  • Cash or Traveler’s Checks
  • Water Purification System
  • Books, Puzzles, and Games
  • Everyday Mediation (i.e., Tylenol)

#7 – Have Your Car Inspected

According to, you should prepare by checking:

  • Antifreeze levels
  • Battery and ignition system
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel and air filters
  • Heater and defroster
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights
  • Oil
  • Thermostat
  • Windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level

#8 – Do Your Normal Activities Ahead of Time

We recommend doing things like grocery shopping, having your car inspected, or filling up with gas ahead of the weekend. Also, you should expect a steep increase in customers in all your favorite spots several days ahead of the eclipse.

This increase of people in your area could cause longer than usual delays with phone calls connecting as well as credit card transactions completing. Have cash on hand for your convenience.

#9 – Enjoy the Totality Safely

Only remove your eclipse eyewear “only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. . . . [A]s soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.”

Please be alert if you are enjoying the totality with young children or other individuals who may need assistance.

Stress the importance of keeping eyewear safely on when viewing the partial eclipse. Staring at the sun even during the partial eclipse could cause photokeratitis (basically, a sun burn on your eye).

#10 – Have the Right Coverage

Now is the perfect time to review your insurance policy. Make sure your coverage limits are still meeting your needs. Also, it may be wise if you do planning on traversing the path of the eclipse to increase your limits.

Make sure to compare three to four policies that have similar coverage options. Also, the price shouldn’t be the only consideration. Make sure to check the financial health of the provider like A.M. Best and Fitch Ratings as well as consumer websites like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.

It’s never too late to start policy comparison, use our FREE tool below. Just enter your zip code to get started.

Find out when the Eclipse is passing your US Interstate

– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes

Georgia85US Interstate09/11/4074 12:54 AMEDT
Idaho84US Interstate09/11/5556 12:47 AMMDT
Idaho15US InterstateMDT
Illinois255US InterstateCDT
Illinois57US Interstate10/23/2963 12:49 AM09/11/7037 12:55 AMCDT
Illinois24US InterstateCDT
Kansas70US InterstateCDT
Kansas435US Interstate09/11/8889 12:48 AMCDT
Kansas635US Interstate09/11/6875 12:48 AMCDT
Kentucky24US Interstate09/11/9259 12:55 AMCDT
Kentucky69US Interstate09/11/4444 12:49 AM09/11/7778 12:55 AMCDT
Kentucky65US InterstateCDT
Missouri70US Interstate09/11/8889 12:54 AMCDT
Missouri29US Interstate09/11/4444 12:48 AMCDT
Missouri35US Interstate09/11/8889 12:54 AMCDT
Missouri435US Interstate09/11/8519 12:48 AM09/11/8519 12:54 AMCDT
Missouri635US Interstate09/11/7407 12:48 AMCDT
Missouri470US Interstate09/11/6667 12:54 AMCDT
Missouri70US Interstate09/11/6667 12:54 AMCDT
Missouri44US InterstateCDT
Missouri270US Interstate09/11/8148 12:49 AMCDT
Missouri55US Interstate09/11/7037 12:49 AM09/25/9259 12:55 AMCDT
Nebraska80US Interstate09/11/7778 12:43 AM09/11/9259 12:49 AMCDT
Oregon101US Highway09/11/7407 12:37 AM09/11/8148 12:42 AMPDT
Oregon5US Interstate09/11/5556 12:37 AM11/11/1111 12:42 AMPDT
Oregon84US Interstate09/11/3704 12:42 AM09/11/5556 12:43 AMMDT
South Carolina85US Interstate09/11/8889 12:54 AMEDT
South Carolina185US Interstate09/11/8148 12:54 AMEDT
South Carolina385US Interstate02/06/7037 12:54 AMEDT
South Carolina26US Interstate12/03/7037 12:06 AMEDT
South Carolina20US Interstate09/11/6296 12:55 AMEDT
South Carolina126US InterstateEDT
South Carolina77US Interstate09/11/6296 12:55 AMEDT
South Carolina95US InterstateEDT
South Carolina526US Interstate09/11/9259 12:55 AMEDT
South Carolina17US Highway09/11/9259 12:55 AMEDT
Tennessee24US Interstate09/25/9259 12:49 AMCDT
Tennessee40US Interstate09/11/6667 12:56 AMCDT
Tennessee440US InterstateCDT
Tennessee65US InterstateCDT
Tennessee840US Interstate11/11/6111 12:49 AMCDT
Tennessee75US Interstate09/11/5926 12:54 AMEDT
Tennessee140US InterstateEDT
Wyoming25US Interstate09/11/6667 12:48 AMMDT
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