Local News

Abandoned Cars Are Eyesores Along Triangle Highways

Posted April 30, 2007

— Abandoned cars: they're an eyesore, they can be dangerous and it seems like they're everywhere.

Interstate 40, the Raleigh Beltline, U.S. Highway 1—you name it. Ditched vehicles are sprinkled along most of our major roads.

The fact is, most people don't like abandoned cars, but they also usually pass them without giving them too much thought.

Think about this, however. In August 2003 on U.S. 1 in Cary, a van struck an abandoned, broken down Oldsmobile that had been left in the median. Three people died when the wreckage caught fire.

“It's like they're everywhere. I've actually seen people taking license plates off the car, and you know they're not going to come back and get it. They just kind of leave them out there like it's a junkyard,” said Buck Kirk, who is on the highways a lot in his job with the state’s Interstate Motorist Assistance Patrol.

The Beltline is a possible qualifier for junkyard status. In one swing around Interstate 440 with Kirk, WRAL’s Mark Roberts found 11 abandoned cars.

“We almost always see a splurge of abandoned vehicles at the change of the season, especially from the cold to the hot weather,” Kirk said.

Failing belts, hoses, tires and overheating stop a lot of cars in their tracks when the temperatures rise.

Some abandoned cars even come with a story. A Jeep alongside the Inner Beltline near Six Forks Road has a note that says, “Engine seized up on the 28th,” and the driver is trying to get it fixed.

Raleigh police said, however, that no matter what the excuse, once they tag an abandoned vehicle, you've got seven days to come and get it on your own. After that, police will tow it, and they'll charge you for it.

With the state Highway Patrol, said Lt. Everett Clendenin, “Our troopers tag 'em, and then people have 48 hours to remove them.”

The patrol's approach sounds tougher, but its forces are stretched thin.

“The issue with abandoned cars is, it's an eyesore, but not that many are involved in collisions and we understand that. We have to keep our limited amount of troopers focused on the speeders, the things that are killing the most people on our highways. We're not going to turn our back on them, but it's just not a priority to get to abandoned vehicles,” Clendenin said.

Fayetteville and Durham give drivers seven days to move an abandoned vehicle and will move it at the owner’s expense after that.

Cumberland County is a little more strict. The sheriff's office fines people $100 a day. And, if the vehicle isn't gone in 30 days, it's impounded.


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  • itisisaysme May 2, 2007

    More than likely the people don't have the funds to have their vehicle removed immediately so I do think she should have a little bit of slack. You've got some people who have to decide between paying rent or getting a tow truck. Yes they need their car but they also need their roof. I don't think it should be an excessive amount of time but surely cut them some slack.

  • norwinfischer May 2, 2007

    Seven days to remove a vehicle? (Raleigh Police) 48 hours to remove a vehicle? (State Police) Either timeframe is unacceptable and probably leads to some just leaving their vehicles parked on the side of area roads like it's a sotrage area. We need to push for a 24 hour standard across the board. If you can't move your car in 24 hours then it just isn't that vital to you and the city/state should remove your eyesore/hazard from the roadway. Seven days, are they kidding?

  • cuffusion May 1, 2007

    babble,, The statute stipulates that it can not be towed any sooner than 7 days.. therefore municipalities have no legal standing in shortening the timeframe.. nor may they fine anyone for an action that is legal under State law... so I still contend that both of these practices are in violation of statute.

  • Michael Kenyon May 1, 2007

    "in August 2003 on U.S. 1 in Cary, a van struck an abandoned, broken down Oldsmobile that had been left in the median."

    So, if the abandoned olds had not been in the median (why, again, was the van riding in the median?) then the van might have crossed into the other lane and taken out a school bus.

    Heck, they've had controversy over guard rails on the new section of 64, maybe we should just line up old cars!

  • anonemoose May 1, 2007

    As far as towing them sooner, or the fines, Cities and Counties may pass ordinances that are more restrictive than state laws, but may not pass an ordinance that is less restrictive. IOW, they may pass an ordinance making something that is legal under state law illiegal, but may not make something illiegal under state law legal.

  • special k May 1, 2007

    so steve - i thought the idea of stripping the cars where they sit very creative - the only problem with that though is the cars left on the roads around here are worthy of chopping - we not fancy like you people up north - lol

  • ncbookseller May 1, 2007

    Be that as it may, Steve Crisp, the cost to her for a car repair, tow, taxis, etc. may be very great, while the cost to you (enduring the "eyesore" for a few days) may be very small. I think expecting a little compassion from one another doesn't need to amount to a sob story. It seems that some want to jump to involve the government in inconveniencing people and costing them money.

  • acuranut May 1, 2007

    I am a tower in the area. I can't speak for how the city of Raleigh works it, but I am on the SHP rotation. We pick up abandoned cars for them all the time. We are required by law to file with the DMV after 10 days of storage. It takes 6+ months for NC to give me authorization to get rid of them. My balance goes to a collection agency, usually about 6 grand. I wont tow or store cars for free. Usually doesnt matter though, since the loser who left his car hasnt paid a bill in his life anyway.

  • Steve Crisp May 1, 2007

    For $52 dollars per year, anyone can join AAA. They will tow your car if it is disabled. And anyone who owns a car better have the means to afford a AAA membership for one year.

    So please stop with the sob stories about single moms and their broken cars, desperately trying to make it paycheck to paycheck in order to have their cars fixed.

  • ncbookseller May 1, 2007

    I would hope that if I were in that position, the people in my community would be a little bit more forgiving about the "eyesore" I leave on the side of the road if I need a few days to get the money and resources together to fix it. You may just see a piece of junk on the side of the road, but you don't see the single mom trying to get rides to work and borrow money until payday. People with a second vehicle or enough money to get the car fixed aren't the ones leaving it on the shoulder for a few days.