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Troopers investigate increase in tractor-trailer crashes

CHARLOTTE. N.C. — It seems every week there's another tractor-trailer crash on one of Charlotte's major interstates.

Potatoes, paint and bees are some of the cargo that have spilled out in recent mishaps. Theses crashes caused major traffic backups in the Charlotte area.

“I'm just like everybody else ... like why is this happening all of a sudden?” driver Diane Miller asked.

Channel 9 noticed an uptick in crashes involving tractor-trailers. North Carolina Highway Patrol confirmed those crashes have increased in recent months.

From December to May, there have been 403 commercial vehicle crashes in Mecklenburg County.

That's compared with 373 during the same time last year -- an 8 percent increase.

“We have had a couple crashes with commercial motor vehicles where the drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel,” said Sgt. Gregory Clemmons with the Highway Patrol.

Clemmons said the most serious crashes happen late at night when drivers are tired or distracted. He also said the morning and evening rush hour time periods are a problem too.

“It generally occurs in what we consider a high crash corridors, which is (a) heavy volume area -- I-85 in the Mecklenburg County area, Interstate 77 in the Mecklenburg County area,” Clemmons said.

The Highway Patrol plans to hire 187 more troopers to help with visibility on the interstates. The agency plans to station 7-8 troopers in Mecklenburg County sometime in the next year.

“It’s a proven fact that the more troopers we have the road, the safer the road will be for the public,” Clemmons said.

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