Interstate 77 in Charlotte, N.C., was closed for several hours Friday morning after a tractor-trailer overturned and spilled 50,000 pounds of potatoes onto the highway. North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman John Burgin said the 53-year-old truck driver from Utah told troopers that he fell asleep at the wheel after being unable to find a legal place to park.
No serious injuries were reported in the accident, which occurred about 2 a.m.
“He told the trooper at the scene that he knew we (North Carolina) would write citations for trucks parking on the interstate, which we do,” Burgin said. “He said he started to feel sleepy but didn’t want to get pulled over.”
The big rig hit a barrier wall and overturned, spilling fuel and thousands of potatoes.
Burgin said he didn’t know who the trucker drives for or how long he had been behind the wheel.
Traffic on I-77 southbound was opened to two lanes late Friday morning.
In June 2015, the North Carolina Highway Patrol announced a statewide effort to stop vehicles from parking illegally along the interstate. According to a Charlotte Observer story from November 2015, the North Carolina Highway Patrol issued 261 no-parking tickets on interstate highways in June, July and August combined. The same article reported that North Carolina issued only 70 illegal interstate parking tickets in all of 2014.
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