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Icy Roads Cause Over 50 Wrecks

Posted January 22, 2008

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— Icy roads Tuesday morning lead to more than 50 accidents across the Triangle, most of which were fender-benders that caused no serious injuries, according to authorities.

The roads returned to normal after warmer temperatures swept through the area.

Cars could be seen sliding on the road at N.C. Highways 540 and 54, where previous accidents were blocking some lanes. Glenwood Avenue at Interstate 540 was also backed up due to slippery roads.

"The cars were spinning around, striking each other, striking the guardrails, striking the Jersey walls," said Trooper Beckley Vaughan, of the state Highway Patrol. "One of the worst things you can do, of course, is hit the brakes, and most of those people, when they started losing control, were applying the brakes."

Mark Bitleris drove his sport utility vehicle into the median guardrail cable on N.C. 540 at N.C. 54.

"I was going across the bridge, just hit a patch of ice and started going sideways," Bitleris said.  "About five minutes later, another car hit the wall on the other side. The ice seemed to creep up on people."

Robin Griffo was involved in a three-vehicle wreck at I-540 and Glenwood Avenue.

"I actually hit a van first, and then it threw me into the wall," Griffo said. "Then I hit (another car), and then I rode up the side of the wall and stopped right here at the end."

“I was like oh my gosh, we're in a wreck, we're not gonna go over the rail, we are not gonna go over the rail,” Griffo’s daughter, Abigail, said.

Durham police reported an accident on Interstate 85 south entering Durham where a black car hit a white truck.

A Honda Accord hit a patch of ice and hit a silver minivan at I-85 northbound and the Guess Road exit  Another car trying to avoid the accident slid rear-end first into the side of an 18-wheeler near I-85 North and Duke Street.

Moore County officials said they were "very busy" working multiple accidents from ice, especially in the western part of the county. U.S. Highway 1 southbound was closed after an accident near Deep River at the Chatham/Lee county line, according to officials.

The National Weather Service in Raleigh warned that patchy freezing drizzle or light freezing rain would develop across sections of the Piedmont between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Temperatures were forecast to be between 25 and 30 degrees at the onset of rain, but were expected to warm up a little later in the day. Ground temperatures were considerably colder than Saturday night, when parts of the state saw some snowfall.

Monday's high temperature was 37 degrees. Temps for this time of the year are usually around 50 degrees. The low temperature was 15 degrees, which was 14 degrees below normal.

On Dec. 7, wet snow, flurries and freezing rain put a light glaze on bridges and highways throughout the Triangle. That was enough to cause one fatality and dozens of wrecks and shut down portions of several highways – slowing the commute to crawl.

Another shot of cold weather is expected late Thursday, with temperatures in the mid-20s and then dropping down to about 15 degrees on Friday.

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  • Bob Sidel Jan 28, 2008

    All they have to do is say "slick roads" and the natives will be driving into ditches, guardrail, each other.

  • AtALost Jan 22, 2008

    To Worland: You are wrong! I'm a N. Carolinian (born and raised) and I always use turn signals and never throw trash out the window. I'd bet money that many who don't use turn signals and discard their trash improperly are from other parts of the country.

  • NCTeacher Jan 22, 2008

    I happen to like Greg Fishel's weather forecast. And none of it is ever going to be exact. They can't tell you 100% certain it will snow/rain/ice until it is already snowing/raining/icy.

    But he isn't the "cause" of all the car accidents that happen. It isn't because he created a panic. It is because people are in too much of a hurry to get somewhere 10 minutes faster than they would if they drove sensibly.

  • misschris234 Jan 22, 2008

    I don't think there were any problems at 5am? Seemed they all started later in the morning. HP said the problems all started happening within about a 15 minute timeframe.

  • Professor Studley Jan 22, 2008

    lol... hmm... funny I was out at 5am and had no problem with ice on I85 north or southbound... Now bad drivers were much more of a problem as usual i.e. the Semi that ran me off the road at exit 179... what gives with people not grasping the concept of seeing a car AHEAD of them trying to merge and NOT moving over, instead speeding up and trying to hit them?!

  • misschris234 Jan 22, 2008

    What amazed me (well, actually not) was watching some of those live shots this morning, where there were cars obviously spun out blocking much of the interstate, and cars continued at full speed (and several spun out in the meantime)... there were people trying to push cars out of the way, and cars were flying by them. We are lucky we aren't reading reports about fatalities the way people were driving with no regards for others this morning. If people would just slow down a little, and use a little common sense, we could avoid most of everything that happened this morning.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Jan 22, 2008

    RealDealTarHeel- we know you have an axe to grind with the weather forecasters. WE GET IT. Please, your whining has become tiresome.

  • JandJ Jan 22, 2008

    I saw the wreck where the car hit the 18 wheeler on I-85. What they left out was the fact that apparently the semi didn't realize the car hit it (the maroon car hit the passenger side of the cargo area of the truck) so the semi kept driving. It drug the car attached (the car was facing traffic) for about 1 mile before someone or something clued him in and he starting pulling over to the right. That was scary to watch. Eventually when the truck stopped the car got detached and we was actually able to do a u turn and pull over to the left side of the road. There were also about 10 other wrecks right there at the same time. The bottom line for this incident was people being stupid. As soon as I saw people on the side of the road I slowed way down (and so did the smart people around me). We were probably doing 15 mph. The maroon car came flying past me on the right doing at least 70mph. About every 15 sec after that someone would fly past and hit something.

  • US VET Jan 22, 2008

    If you can't drive ....Stay home!!!

  • misschris234 Jan 22, 2008

    I'd say that drivers in NC do pretty good in comparison to many other states... however, in bad weather, we rank pretty low primarily due to inexperience, panic, and too many people that don't realize that ice is a completely different animal. It's funny to me that you can drive North and it's WAY different (everyone is in a hurry and there seems to be no speed limit), or drive South and things slow down a bit (with the exception of a few places in GA and FL) I'd say drivers around here do pretty good, but in bad weather, all of that goes out the window.

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