Troopers strive to keep NC travelers safe from wrong-way drivers

Troopers strive to keep NC travelers safe from wrong-way drivers

There is no approved vacation the week of Thanksgiving for North Carolina state troopers -- just about every single one of them is out on the roads enforcing the law.

"Very little leave is granted, if any, so we'll have all available personnel working," Trooper Ray Pierce said.

Pierce added that they'd like to have even more troopers on duty as 1.4 million people hit the road in North Carolina.

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As they look for aggressive and drunk drivers, troopers said they're also keeping an eye on a troubling trend of wrong-way drivers.

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Two weeks ago, a man was arrested and charged with driving drunk after officers said he went the wrong way on Interstate 485 for 30 miles, from Matthews to Brookshire Boulevard in west Charlotte.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in that incident.

While troopers were on that call, another case of a person driving the wrong-way happened.

"At the exact same time, which it is rare that it happens, we had the same incident take place on 485 near the South Boulevard exit," Pierce said.

In the second case, the driver going the wrong way died after hitting another car and seriously injuring the other driver.

The cases kept adding up. A wrong-way crash on I-85 earlier this month injured two people.

In September, on I-77 in South Carolina, two people were killed in a wrong way crash, including a three-year-old.

It's become such a problem that the North Carolina Turnpike Authority said it is testing new, flashing signs to alert drivers. There are already red reflective 'wrong way' and 'do not enter' signs on the ramps from I-485.

Troopers said they worry more safety measures won't matter because wrong-way drivers are usually so intoxicated that they won't even notice them.

"With the alcohol or the drug impairment, there's not much we can do to combat that," Pierce said.

Wrong-way drivers are often two to three times over the legal alcohol limit, which is why troopers said they won't get any rest this Thanksgiving holiday as they try to keep people safe on the roads.

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