Nearly 1,000 crashes reported in Fortify Project work zone in 8-month period

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — David Conner has been an engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation for six years.

Most recently, a lot of his time has been spent in the eight-mile stretch of the Fortify Interstate 40/440 Rebuild Project where work is being completed.

“I can tell you if you set your cruise control at 60, people pass you like you are standing still,” said Conner.

Conner’s so close to the 120,000 cars that travel the highway each day, he’s had a close call himself. He said he see’s exactly what’s going on behind the wheel.

“Speeding and distracted driving. Those are usually the top things we see the most,” said Conner.

Speeding through a construction zone carries a $250 fine.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s Lt. Jeff Gordon said it also carries an increased risk of crashing.

“This Fortify project area does bring a lot of issues. As far as troopers, we get calls for property damage wrecks, personal injury wrecks,” he said.

CBS North Carolina looked in to see just how many calls they were responding to since construction began.

Before road work began there were close to 700 crashes on the road. Those wrecks happened over nearly a year-and-a-half stretch of time.

Since construction, it didn’t take long for those numbers to climb. There were 993 crashes documented through the end of September, Steve Abbot with the NCDOT said.

“We are seeing the majority of our crashes [are] people failing to increase their following distance,” said Lt. Gordon. “They are hitting other cars in the rear. They are sideswiping other vehicles and they aren’t paying attention behind the wheel.”

Of those crashes, Abbot said 387 were considered rear-end, slow or stop crashes.

Highway Patrol said those are the result of speeding and distracted driving.

Abbot also said it’s important for drivers to take note of the seasons.

“With winter weather approaching, it is even more important that drivers use caution as the slick roads mean even less of a chance of avoiding an incident if a driver is going too fast or following to close behind another vehicle,” he said.

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