Slip, slidin' semis cause major tie-ups on NC highways

Posted January 18, 2018 5:43 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:41 p.m. EDT

— At least five crashes involving tractor-trailers Thursday caused interstates to be shut down in central North Carolina.

Problems started early, with a truck hitting another vehicle that was towing a trailer on northbound Interstate 85 near N.C. Highway 86 in Hillsborough at about 8:30 a.m.

A short time later, two tractor-trailers collided on eastbound Interstate 40/85 near Mebane. Together, the two crashes shut down interstate access to the Triangle from the west for a couple of hours.

Around the time lanes were reopening following those crashes, a truck in a ditch closed northbound I-85 again near Red Mill Road north of Durham.

Interstate 95 wasn't immune to traffic problems, as a jack-knifed tractor-trailer closed northbound lanes near Four Oaks around noon for about an hour.

Another truck crash closed southbound I-85 near the Virginia state line in Warren County early Thursday afternoon.

No one was hurt in any of the crashes, which were among nearly 2,700 that State Highway Patrol troopers responded to between Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon, according to the agency's commander, Col. Glenn McNeill.

Even though state Department of Transportation road crews prioritized clearing snow from interstates and major highways across North Carolina, officials said patches of those roads remain slick.

"It's a beautiful snow, but we've got to remember how dangerous is can be," Gov. Roy Cooper said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. "Even roads that have been cleared, when it gets below freezing tonight, there will be black ice issues."

Tow truck driver Bobby Chapman, who normally would be helping pull vehicles out of roadside ditches, said even he is heeding the warnings of staying off the road after Wednesday's snowstorm.

"Yesterday was horrible. If there was a car stuck on a hill, we couldn’t get to it," said Chapman, who works for Bob's Towing. "We're not prepared in North Carolina for a foot of snow like they are up north."

His company has gotten 300 to 500 calls for help since early Wednesday, compared with about 50 on a normal day, and he said they will start responding to them Friday.

"We’re not going out and picking up the cars and towing them [today] for the simple fact there’s too much risk," he said. "People shouldn’t be out driving if they can’t handle it. It’s pretty dangerous out there."