The agency is now down 10 percent of the 1,600 troopers it would like to have statewide.
The heaviest concentration of vacant posts is in rural areas and in the eastern and western parts of the state. Highway Patrol spokesman First Sgt. Jeff Gordon says it takes longer for troopers to respond to wrecks and they have less time to look for dangerous drivers.
"It's not uncommon to have a trooper cover a whole county or two troopers to cover a whole county," Gordon said.
Department of Public Safety officials hope to get more money this year to end a hiring freeze on 69 positions. Gordon said the Highway Patrol also has been hit by a wave of retirements of troopers hired in the 1980s.
"We're losing probably seven or eight troopers a month to retirement," Gordon said.
According to the Highway Patrol, there are 4 million drivers on North Carolina highways and only 1,600 troopers, which equals one trooper for every 2,500 drivers.
"We are very much outnumbered. We are short all over the state of North Carolina. Even here at the training academy, being able to call troopers off the road to assist in training is taxing for our districts out there," Sgt. Joe Bright Jr. said.
The Highway Patrol is having a job fair Aug. 2-3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton in Greenville. The base trooper salary is $34,000. Cadets are paid and receive benefits during training. The deadline to apply for the next training in the spring is December 31.