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Drivers Beware: State Troopers Increase Patrol for Holiday Weekend

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DURHAM — State troopers will heavily patrol the state's most dangerous highways this holiday weekend.

Six Triangle-area highways are on their list. I-85 in Durham County ranked as the most dangerous, with 28 crashes over the last four July 4th holidays.

I-95 in Johnston County followed, with 26. Wake County beltline, I-440, and U-S 70 in Johnston County each had 25 accidents. I-40 in Wake County had 22, and there were 21 crashes on U-S 401 in Wake County.

Drivers on I-85 this holiday weekend, beware. Troopers will not give speeders any leeway. Construction crews will also be hard at work. Traffic will be restricted to one lane in the northbound lanes through Durham County. State troopers say they need some help from drivers to get I-85 off the bad list.

D.O.T. officials said that the orange barrels will stay on I-85 through the end of the year. So the construction zone, or danger zones as many call them, will remain through July 4th and well beyond.

"People don't pay attention to what they are doing," motorist Babs Carrigan said. "They are too busy looking to see what is going on, next thing they know they hit someone or run into someone. There are a lot of accidents out there."

While I-85 in Durham county ended up seventh state wide on the independence day danger list, the main problem for many drivers is the barriers that funnel highway traffic into one lane.

"Probably about a month ago this car hit the guard rail down here and did a flip. It just looks terrible," motorist Scott Brogden said. "I think they pick the wrong time of day to do all the construction, and its just real busy."

The construction zones are well marked with warning signs and rumble strips that are designed to identify the areas. The D.O.T. and state highway patrol say that the construction zones are not to blame, the drivers are responsible.

"The zone itself is not that bad," trooper Sonny Mangum said. "It is just that people are not adapted to the surroundings of merging into one lane. They are not increasing their following distance. They still have their increased speed, they are not decreasing their speed, and they are following too close. They are not paying attention."

Troopers say the two biggest problems are people speeding to cut in front of traffic at lane closures, and people falling asleep at the wheel.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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