A car hit the back of a Department of Transportation truck in the north bound lanes just past the Cole Mill Road exit during rush hour.
"It was a three car accident," explained Sgt. Dale Gunter with Durham P.D.
Gunter said the DOT truck had pulled off on the left shoulder to allow workers to pick up debris in the road when a northbound Chevrolet Aveo driven by William Allen Merritt, 60, of Durham clipped another car and slammed into the back of the truck.
The man's car went underneath the larger vehicle. Merritt was trapped in his vehicle and was extricated by Durham firefighters.
"He has life threatening injuries. The driver was transported to the hospital," said Gunter.
Merritt was listed in critical condition at Duke University Hospital.
Police said the seriousness of the accident is a reminder of how dangerous stopping on the side of the highway can be for those working and those driving by.
"If you see those blue lights, or you see somebody disabled, slow down or move to another lane," said Gunter.
The accident slowed traffic on Interstate 85 North for more than two hours.