YORK COUNTY, S.C. -- Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to cover the roadways in the Carolinas starting Monday.

While traffic along I-77 ran smoothly as of Sunday night, expect gridlock conditions on major roadways.

"There will be heavy congestion on the roadways and drivers need to pack their patience and prepare to sit in traffic for long periods of time," said Tamra Johnson of AAA.

One of the best cities to catch a glimpse of totality will be Charleston, where thousands have gathered to view the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. And state officials are urging all eclipse viewers and drivers to take some extra precautions in the name of safety.

RELATED: Traffic warnings posted across SC ahead of the solar eclipse

Remember, the moon will begin to block the sun a little before 3 p.m., so if you don't make it to your destination by then, do not park on the side of the interstate to watch the eclipse.

"Not only is it illegal, you can get a ticket for it," said S.C. Highway Patrol trooper David Jones.

RELATED: Complete solar eclipse coverage

Trooper Bob Beres added a few additional tips for motorists planning an eclipse road trip.

"Plan ahead. Know where you're going to watch it," Beres said. "Don't think that you can leave Charleston at noon and be in Columbia by two o'clock. You're going to be inconvenienced because there's going to be traffic.

"There's going to be thousands of vehicles on the interstate. There are only two lanes leaving Charleston, so please, pack your patience."

And in case you get stuck on the road, make sure to have an emergency bag handy with water, food and a flashlight.

Total Eclipse driving tips

  • Start with a full tank of gas. You don't want to worry about finding fuel in the midst of a traffic jam.
  • Do not take pictures while driving. This can't be stressed enough.
  • Don't stop on the shoulder. You will get at ticket if spotted by the Highway Patrol.
  • Don't wear eclipse glasses while driving. You won't be able to see, especially during the dark times.
  • Do keep your headlights on during the eclipse. Remember, it's going to be dark, or at least twilight, for about three hours in total.
  • Do keep some water and snacks in your car, just in case you get stuck on the highway.

For more total eclipse coverage, download the NBC Charlotte mobile app.