CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As thousands of people get ready to hit the road this week, a new study named I-85 the nation’s 15th deadliest highway.
The section through Charlotte is the most dangerous stretch of the interstate, according to GPS company Teletrac Navman.
The numbers say during a five-year period from 2011-2015 there were 378 fatalities on I-85 between Alabama and Virginia. That’s one death every 1.76 miles.
Tiffany Wright, President of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety, says congestion comes from two places. The fast-growing population in Mecklenburg County and travelers driving through the city to other destinations.
“I-85 is such a huge artery when we’re talking about traveling,” Wright said. “Not just in the southeast, the northeast, but just around the country.”
One driver mentioned the increase in trucking traffic through the city as a concern.
“You can’t see beyond the trucks. You have to trust their lights. So when their lights come on, it’s like ‘brake, hurry!’”
Since Charlotte is such a major thoroughfare, we can expect a big increase in drivers as we approach the holiday. AAA projects 2.1 million Carolinians will travel at least 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving.
“The busiest travel day of the year is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Wright said.
While Wednesday is the busiest day, that night is one the most dangerous.
“Blackout Wednesday has become the time of year where binge-drinking is at its highest,” Wright said. “It rivals New Year’s Eve. It rivals St. Patrick’s Day.”
Because of the increase in drinking, there’s an increase in drunk driving. Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday alone, North Carolina and South Carolina had almost 4,000 crashes combined, resulting in 36 deaths.
AAA says the best time to travel this holiday is actually Thanksgiving morning.