Indiana encourages drivers to plan ahead for coming total solar eclipse

Feb. 12—Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Transportation are encouraging drivers to plan ahead for the coming total solar eclipse, which is April 8.

Indiana and the Terre Haute area will play a pivotal role in hosting eclipse enthusiasts as they flock to catch a glimpse of the first total solar eclipse in seven years.

The eclipse will be visible over a large portion of the state, with the path of totality spanning from Evansville to the outskirts of Fort Wayne, entering southwest Indiana at 3:01 p.m. EDT and exiting to the northeast at 3:12 p.m. EDT.

Other parts of the state will experience a partial eclipse of at least 90 percent totality from approximately 1:30 p.m. EDT to 4:30 p.m. EDT.

Nearly 4 million Hoosiers live within the path of totality, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to visit Indiana for the event. Increased traffic and congestion are also expected as residents and tourists alike make their way to viewing destinations.

Areas near the eclipse centerline are anticipated to see the greatest influx of visitors.

ISP and INDOT are offering the following tips to plan ahead and prepare for potential travel impacts before, during and after the eclipse.

Before the eclipse

* Research your viewing site, considering accessibility, parking and crowd size. Check INDOT TrafficWise on the mobile app or at org to plan your route and monitor traffic conditions. Plan to arrive at your destination early.

* Anticipate increased traffic and congestion, especially in areas in or near the path of totality.

* Reach your destination safely — buckle up and put your phone down while driving.

* Pack plenty of snacks and water, as well as charging cables for electronics and mobile devices, in the event you or your group become stranded.

* Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas and top off fluids before you head out in case you're stuck in traffic for a long period of time. Use this eclipse-ready checklist for more road trip essentials.

* Don't forget your solar eclipse viewing glasses. You will need specially designed glasses to avoid damage to your eyes.

During the eclipse

* Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the main path if possible.

* Exit the roadway to stop and view the solar eclipse. Do not stop along highways or park on the shoulder for viewing.

* Do not take photos or videos while driving. Indiana is a hands-free state. Holding mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets while driving is prohibited by state law.

* Do not wear eclipse glasses while driving.

* Turn on your headlights. Do not rely on automatic lights.

* Watch for pedestrians, especially along secondary roads.

After the eclipse

* Plan your post-event transportation method well in advance. If celebrating, ensure everyone has a safe and sober way to return home. Designate a sober driver or arrange for alternate transportation.

* Exercise patience when leaving your viewing location as traffic may be heavy. Follow instructions from law enforcement or emergency personnel and be considerate of fellow drivers. Stay put and stick around to avoid the post-event rush.

* Clean up after yourself and dispose of trash in designated receptacles or take it with you.

* Once again, check INDOT TrafficWise on the mobile app or at 511in.org to plan your route and monitor traffic conditions.

INDOT will limit road closures and restrictions where possible on state routes to help with traffic flow surrounding the eclipse. Oversize and overweight permits will also be temporarily suspended during this time.

View current construction and maintenance activities on INDOT TrafficWise or the free mobile app.

Visit the sites below and follow INDOT and ISP on social media for more information regarding the total solar eclipse in Indiana.

* eclipse2024.in.gov

* visitindiana.com/eclipse2024

* greatamericaneclipse.com/indiana-2024-eclipse

* science.nasa.gov