Slick roads blamed for hundreds of wrecks across Triangle
Posted February 24, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Dozens of wrecks, including one that was fatal, were reported Tuesday as snow fell across the region, causing slippery highway ramps, bridges and secondary roads.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said a man – whose name hasn't been released – was killed on westbound U.S. Highway 64 near Wendell after a car went off the road and hit a tree near the Rolesville Road exit.
No other vehicles were involved in the wreck, but traffic was backed up in both directions of U.S. 64 for hours after the crash.
Ten students from Southern Vance High School in Henderson were also being treated at a local hospital Tuesday afternoon after a car hit the front of their bus.
A Vance County Schools spokeswoman said the bus when the wreck happened on N.C. Highway 39 in Henderson. Some of the students complained of minor injuries, and were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Both cases are examples of why law enforcement officials across the state are urging people to stay off the roads.
Between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Highway Patrol had responded to 2,060 calls for service – 1,727 of which were collisions. Troopers typically respond to about 1,000 calls over a 24-hour period, according to the governor's office.
Raleigh police responded to 266 wrecks from 6 a.m. until 3:25 p.m., and as of 11 a.m., state troopers worked nearly 100 reports of collisions, Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said.
Durham police reported 80 wrecks and the Durham County Sheriff's Office responded to 15 wrecks as of noon. Chapel Hill police were also responding to a number of weather-related wrecks.
Those numbers were expected to rise, and updated numbers weren't immediately available early Tuesday evening.
Gordon, as well as law enforcement officials across the state, urged drivers to go slow and use caution if they have to be out on the roads, and if they don't, to stay home.
Meanwhile, more than 880 trucks with the North Carolina Department of Transportation were out across the state – at least 82 in Wake County – treating roads with salt and sand.
DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau said that, based on earlier forecasts, crews had planned to treat roads with brine after the morning commute but that the snow arrived earlier than expected.
"The forecast changes, and people were already on the road," Charbonneau said. "Now, the challenge is getting out there and covering all of our roadways."
Heavy traffic conditions and slow drive times, however, delayed the process.
"As long as there are a lot of cars on the roads, our trucks cannot get their work done," he added. "It's really best to stay put."
Road conditions improved by Tuesday afternoon as the snow tapered off and DOT crews treated and cleared them but driving hazards were expected to remain as temperatures remain below freezing overnight.
Drivers were warned to be aware of slick spots.
"Just because the pavement is showing doesn't mean it's not slick," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "Our temperatures are below freezing. The pavement may look bare to you, but you're still going to run into some slick places."
There were several trouble spots in the region that caused traffic delays and wrecks earlier Tuesday.
Interstate 40 at U.S. Highway 70 in Wake County caused traffic gridlock for several hours Tuesday morning, and traffic was also slow on I-40 and Interstate 540.
Delays were also reported on I-40 in Durham and Wake counties, specifically between Raleigh and Research Triangle Park.
Primary streets in Durham were passable and clear by early Tuesday afternoon, and secondary and residential streets were passable for the most part, but hazardous conditions.
Elsewhere, in Fayetteville and throughout Johnston County, roads were generally in good condition but hazards still existed overnight into Wednesday because of freezing temperatures.
Among other significant wrecks Tuesday:
- In Raleigh, a driver turning onto Jones Franklin Road from Centerview Drive was hit after the other driver ran over a slick spot and lost control of his vehicle. No one was injured.
- Two cars collided on Main Street in Fuquay-Varina shortly before 10 a.m. There were no injuries.
- Several wrecks were reported in Durham on University Drive – where a vehicle hit a fire hydrant – and on South Alston Avenue where two cars were involved in a wreck.
- Also in Durham, a man and his 5-year-old child were involved in a wreck after the Mustang they were in ran off Erwin Road near Morreene Road and overturned into a creek after he hit a slick spot. Neither were injured.