Local News

Troopers Urge Travelers to Drive Defensively

Posted December 24, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The holiday rush is ending for retailers and getting into high gear for travelers. This will be a night with the family for most of us, and a night on the road for highway patrolmen. It comes with the territory. Tonight's focus is safety.

One of drivers' biggest fears is the possibility of another car hitting them head-on. It happened twice yesterday on I-85. In each accident, two people were killed. In both these accidents, cars careened over protective barriers. So, even with barriers, experts say don't take any chances.

Trooper William Dancy, with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, says besides driving in the center or right lanes on interstates, there's not much you can do to lower your odds of a head on collision.

But many of the medians here are built to prevent one from happening, although not the one involved in last night's crash. "Here we have these median barriers, these cables here if you hit them, they're designed to hold the vehicle in to it so you don't come back out in the traffic."

But more often than not, collisions occur with drivers on your side of the road. Dancy suggests you increase your following distance. "The faster the car goes, the longer it takes to stop and depending on whether you're fatigued or what have you, it just takes longer by the time you've recognized the hazard. Most of the time especially here out on I-40, by the time it takes to go from the gas pedal to the brake, you've already run into the person in front of you simply because you're three, four car lengths behind." Dancy's amazed how many people don't do that, even when an erratic driver is ahead of them. And with all this rain out here Dancy says you might want to drive below the speed limit and don't drink and drive.

The Highway Patrol wants reminds you that even though there's a a protective barrier on the road you're driving on, it may not save you. There were two accidents yesterday where cars flipped over them and killed drivers in the oncoming lane.