Clearing Traffic Accidents Takes Time, Drivers Forced to Wait
Posted October 24, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
DURHAM — A minor accident grew into a major headache Monday morning for Triangle commuters. A traffic jam along Interstate 40 left hundreds of drivers asking the question, "How long should it take to clear an accident?"
At 7:50 a.m., one car rear ended another in the eastbound lanes of I-40 near the Durham Freeway. At 8 a.m., aDOT traffic camerashowed the mess. Help was still arriving, and two lanes were blocked.
At 8:45 a.m.,Sky 5gave a different look, but the situation had not changed. Wreckage was still blocking two lanes, and a backup was stretching for miles.
Finally at 9:36 a.m., the wreckage was cleared, and I-40 was back to four lanes.
It took an hour and 46 minutes to clear the wreck. So, how long should it take to clear an accident?
"We have procedures that we have to follow. The best answer is it takes as long as it takes," said Trooper Clint Carroll.
Carroll said he was held up at least 20 minutes weaving through traffic. One car's wheels were locked so crews had to wait for a tow truck. HAZMAT crews also kept the lanes blocked to soak up fluids.
"I feel comfortable with the investigation. Once I got there, things moved pretty quick," said Carroll.
"It shouldn't have to take an hour and 46 minutes for them to get everything straight," said motorist Margie Liles.
A lot of drivers were mad about the big backup. The state highway patrol says it was a bad situation in a bad spot at a bad time.
As Triangle traffic continues to increase, drivers can expect similar delays or longer ones in the future.
There were no serious injuries in the accident, and one driver was charged with failure to reduce speed.