August 21, 2017 is forecast to shatter all sorts of records due to the arrival of the Great American Solar Eclipse. Astronomers believe this will be the most watched celestial event in human history, with more than 320million people expected to take time out to look up and glance at the rare total or partial solar eclipse.
The US Department of Transportation warns this event may see the most movement on highways ever in US history as visitors rush to the area of totality from coast to coast to view the special moment in the sky. Interstate highways are expecting record traffic and record problems as a result of that traffic: extensive back-ups, closures, accidents, and ancillary problems such as gas station running out of fuel.
With the internet and social media age here, the eclipse is expected to bring about unprecedented network traffic, possible putting some communication systems to the point of failure. Along the area of totality, cellular communication providers are rolling out cell-on-wheel trucks known as COWs to add bandwidth to areas where a lot of people will be sharing their pictures and videos of the amazing event with friends. “We think we are in great shape, but it is rare that hundreds of millions of people across the country could watch a single event and start sharing their pictures all at once,” T-Mobile said in a statement. T-Mobile and other carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have all discussed the strain the day will put on their networks and all are hopeful their infrastructure can handle the bandwidth.
The AAA has issued a list of tips to help you stay safe, whether you’re driving through the darkness or pulling over to gaze at the incredible event in awe:
- have proper eye wear for the eclipse. Sunglasses are NOT safe.
- Do NOT stop along the highway or interstate or park on the shoulder of the road
- Keep headlights on – don’t rely on automatic headlights
- Do NOT wear eclipse glasses while driving.
- Do NOT try to photograph or video the eclipse while driving.
- Be mindful of pedestrians that many will be walking around with their eyes on the sky.
- Prepare for extra congestion on the roads during the eclipse period, but also in the days before and after the eclipse as many travelers head to the totality zone.
- Have your viewing location set and stay in place, avoiding travel during the eclipse