Police prepare for solar eclipse: 'We're going to treat this like a major holiday.'
South Carolina (WPDE) —
Anticipation is building for the total solar eclipse this month that will travel from Oregon to South Carolina. And the roadways are expected to be busy - the days leading up to the event.
South Carolina Highway Patrol says they're treating this eclipse event like a major holiday.
Cpl. Sonny Collins says they'll have additional troopers on the roads.
"The advantage here is we know what time it's going to happen. We know what day it's going to happen, we know what time it's going to happen, we know the areas that are most affected," said Collins. "So, we know when we make it through that total eclipse and we start coming out the other side we know people will start dispersing and going about their regular day."
"I think it's pretty cool its going to be around here," said one driver along U.S. Highway 501. "I had no idea you had to prepare for an eclipse."
The last place to see the total eclipse in the U.S. will be in Georgetown County. Collins says they're anticipating a lot of people coming to the Palmetto State to watch.
"South Carolina is the only state on the east coast where this event is happening," he said. "It mainly runs from the top of the state all the way to the coast. So, we hope some of those travelers will spread out from Greenville to Columbia to Myrtle Beach."
Collins says they'll adjust their plan of action as they lead up to the main event.
NASA estimates more than 200 million people live within a day's drive of the path of totality, and many of those will try to get there. Despite these predictions, drivers here say they're not ready.
"A part from people overreacting, I don't think there would be any natural disasters type of thing occurring because it," said one driver along U.S. Highway 501.
But, Collins says, because this is such a rare phenomenon, he stresses the importance of over-preparing rather than under-preparing.
"Keep your tank full of gas, cash on hand instead of a debit card, things that we always ask during hurricane evacuations or big events--keep a bottle of water in the car in case you need it," said Collins.
Collins says, if you are traveling while the eclipse is happening, work to ensure your safety and that of others on the road. Namely, pull off into a parking lot to view the event.
He says it's illegal to park on the shoulder of an interstate or a controlled access highway, like Highways 31 or 22.
"We need you to focus on the road," said Collins. "We don't even want you parked on the shoulder of the road of a U.S. highway, while yes it may be legal, it's not safe. If you're parked right on the shoulder of the road, other drivers are driving, they may be trying to look up at the sky, not doing the safe things themselves, and all of the sudden we have a recipe for a crash or disaster."
Collins says, because they know when and where the total eclipse will happen, they'll use that to their advantage as they manage the traffic.
For more stories about the social eclipse, click here.
For information about solar eclipse events in your area, click here.