What's with cars left by the side of the road in North Carolina?

If you've driven down any major highway in North Carolina, you've probably noticed a number of abandoned vehicles clogging up the shoulder of the road.

Over the last three years, North Carolina State Highway Patrol reported thousands of calls about abandoned vehicles:

In 2017, the state received 3,269 complaints. That number rose in 2018 to 4,115. So far this year, 2,432 calls have been placed.

"As long as the vehicle is not posing a hazard, they have a 24-hour period," Sgt. Chris Knox with the Highway Patrol told us when asked how long-abandoned vehicles have to be towed.

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Typically, a trooper will mark the vehicle with a bright orange tag indicating the clock is ticking.

If the car is left in the travel lane or not completely off the shoulder, it may be towed sooner. "We do see the impact of what happens when someone hits an abandoned car and it causes a lot of damage and a lot of times a lot of injuries," Sgt. Knox said.

If you must abandon your vehicles, be aware that bad actors may break in and steal your stuff, so take any valuables with you and lock your doors.

To avoid having to leave your vehicle on the side of the road, Sgt. Knox suggests making sure your car is in top condition for travel.

Often times, the heat of the pavement and your tires aren't best friends, so make sure your tires have the proper amount of air and tread.

Additionally, make sure:

  • Your windshield wipers are in working order.
  • You have enough windshield fluid
  • Make sure oil is in good shape
  • Lights are in working order
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