AAA Travel Tip: Total eclipse in the car

The first cross-country solar eclipse since the advent of the automobile and creation of the free interstate system is heading our way Monday, August 21.

aaaAnd, while it won’t shroud the Richmond area in complete darkness, drivers will most certainly see and feel the difference while on the road, which could lead to some distracted driving behavior.

While our area is 400+ miles away from the path of totality, most of our region will experience about 85% percent obstruction of sunlight 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, do not turn your eyes away from the road,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA.  “Aside from damaging your eyes, looking at the eclipse while driving is distracted driving at its worst.  While AAA recommends staying off the road during the eclipse, if you have to drive keep sun visors and cell phones down to protect your eyes, reduce temptation to look at the sun, and avoid distracted driving.”


2017 Solar Eclipse Obstruction and Timeline

City, StateObstruction

(% of totality)

Start TimePeak TimeEnd TimeDuration
Richmond, VA86%1:18 pm2:44 pm4:03 pm2 hr., 45 mins.
Washington, DC81%1:17 pm2:42 pm4:01 pm2 hr., 40 mins.
Baltimore, MD79%1:18 pm2:42 pm4:01 pm2 hr., 40 mins.
Raleigh, NC93%1:16 pm2:44 pm4:06 pm2 hr., 49 mins.
Outer Banks, NC89%1:24 pm2:50 pm4:09 pm2 hr., 45 mins.
Charleston, SC100%1:16 pm2:47 pm4:09 pm2 hr., 53 mins.

SOURCE: Time and Date Eclipse Map


AAA advises to plan ahead

  • Sky gazers could take to the roads at the last minute, looking for a good view of the eclipse, so find a spot for viewing early.
  • August 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.
  • Do NOT wear eclipse glasses while driving.
  • Do NOT try to photograph or video the eclipse while driving.
  • Do NOT 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 mindful of pedestrians that many be walking around with their eyes on the sky.

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