Driving on Long Island is not for the faint of heart. Traffic is heavy, drivers and pedestrians face a diverse mix of dangers along Long Island’s roadways. Urban roadways present tunnels and overpasses with poorly marked exits and extreme traffic congestion. Long Island’s vast suburban stretches offer drivers endless traffic lights and countless vehicles unexpectedly merging or turning off of roadways outside of those traffic lights. Finally, the island’s more rural sections present drivers with winding, poorly lit, and aging roadways that would challenge the nerves of even the most calm and collected drivers. It is little wonder that seven of New York State’s most dangerous roadways are found on Long Island.
Interstate 495 (LIE)
Interstate 495 (I-495), commonly known as the Long Island Expressway (LIE), is a multi-lane interstate highway that stretches 71 miles east to west across the center of Long Island. Nearly every point along its length presents unique dangers from the stop-start traffic and confusing maze of on-ramps and exits through eastern midtown Manhattan and Queens to its poorly lit, winding stretches through the more rural end of the island, all the way in the hamlet of Calverton in eastern Suffolk County.
The LIE begins at the Queens–Midtown Tunnel in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, passes under the East River, proceeds through Queens where it connects with I-95. It crosses into Nassau, then Suffolk Counties, where traffic can span eight lanes. This relatively flat, straight roadway is incredibly dangerous because average speeds are so high. It is not uncommon to see vehicles driving at upwards of 90 miles per hour, racing past traffic and weaving in and out of lanes on the LIE. The mix of speeding cars, massive commercial trucks,and heavy traffic, including many out-of-town drivers visiting the island, make the LIE especially dangerous.
Hundreds of accidents a year, a large proportion of which are fatal, take place on the LIE. A quick local news search for “LIE accident” will return dozens of results including overturned tractor-trailers, vehicles flipped or in flames, passengers ejected, and pedestrians struck in service lanes. Because of high average speeds and other dangerous driving habits–texting, following too closely, etc.–multi-car pile-ups happen with shocking frequency along the LIE.
Driving defensively is a must on the LIE. But even the most vigilant and alert driver can be caught off guard by the dangerous actions of another driver. If you or a family member is injured in an accident, you owe it to yourself to consult with an experienced Long Island car accident attorney right away. At Chaikin LaPenna, we will make sure your interests are protected and that you receive the best settlement possible for your injuries.
Route 25 (Jericho Turnpike)
New York State Route 25 (NY 25) is an east–west state highway that extends for 105 miles from the Queensboro Bridge in east midtown Manhattan along the northern section of Long Island all the way to the Cross Sound Ferry terminal at Orient Point, making it the easternmost roadway on Long Island’s North Fork. The turnpike passes through many mid-size towns and hamlets as it meanders through Nassau and Suffolk counties. Across Nassau and western Suffolk counties NY 25 is known as Jericho Turnpike.
Local traffic, high vehicle speeds, ever-changing traffic patterns along the route, and poor design that does not account for pedestrian crossings all contribute to making Route 25 consistently one of the deadliest roadway on Long Island, especially for pedestrians. Poor lighting along several stretches and at particular intersections have contributed to making this route especially dangerous for pedestrians at night. In addition, Route 25 in Suffolk County can stretch for a half mile or more without a single pedestrian crosswalk. Speeding, intoxicated or distracted drivers are also often involved in fatal pedestrian crashes along Route 25. Between 2011 and 2013, a staggering 20 pedestrians were killed on Jericho Turnpike in Suffolk County.
Speed limits were reduced and speeding enforcement was stepped up along some stretches of Jericho Turnpike after three teens were killed in a car accident in Smithtown in 2008. Still average speeds along the turnpike in Suffolk County often exceed marked speed limits by 10 MPH or more. Many believe more must be done to slow traffic along this still deadly route.
Route 24, which is known as the Hempstead Turnpike over its Nassau County stretch, is perhaps the most dangerous roadway for pedestrians in the state of New York. Its western extension begins in the Queens Village section of New York City and passes through busy commercial sections of Nassau County, including Franklin Square, West Hempstead, Hempstead and East Meadow.
Hampstead Turnpike is a relatively narrow arterial highway with heavy fast-moving traffic and numerous traffic lights. The roadway, designed to move as many cars as quickly as possible, with little consideration for pedestrians, lacks crossing signals, well-defined crosswalks, medians to protect pedestrians, and proper lighting at intersections. Seniors and pedestrians crossing the turnpike in the early morning or evening hours are particularly vulnerable. Newsday found that between 2005 and 2010, 32 pedestrians were killed and at least 427 injured along Hempstead Turnpike.
Local leaders have taken notice, and some improvements have been made, including upgrading traffic signals, adding left-turn lanes, and installing countdown signals at crosswalks along certain stretches of Hempstead Turnpike. Still pedestrian and bicycle safety advocates believe more must be done to make the roadway safer for all.
Southern State Parkway (Blood Alley)
Driving along one of Long Island’s deadliest sections of road, known as Blood Alley, you’ll see a shocking number of roadside memorials, tributes to motorists who lost their lives there and a reminder to drivers of the dangers the roadway presents. “Blood Alley” is a notoriously dangerous 10-mile stretch (between exits 17 and 32) of the already hazardous Southern State Parkway. With heavy traffic, numerous twists and tight turns, poor lighting along several sections, and drivers in a hurry, this section of the Southern State Parkway is considered one of the most dangerous roads in New York State.
The Southern State Parkway is an eight-lane beast–a limited-access parkway that runs west to east from the Queens-Nassau County border to West Islip in Suffolk County where it becomes the Heckscher State Parkway. Construction on the Southern State Parkway began in 1925. It was originally intended to connect city dwellers with Jones Beach and other state parks and was thus designed in a meandering style for leisurely travel atlow speeds and in light traffic. Overpasses were intentionally constructed with low clearance for aesthetics and to prevent commercial traffic on the parkway system. Over the years the roadway has become a major thoroughfare, undergoing countless expansions, with added access roads and ramps, and seemingly endless repairs and construction. Recently, massive potholes have become a new danger and raised the ire of motorists who are calling on lawmakers to address the disrepair.
The aging road, haphazard upgrades, and changing nature of traffic along the Southern State Parkway mean nearly a thousand crashes a year on the roadway and numerous fatalities over the years. The Southern State Parkway and Blood Alley, in particular, are so dangerous that state lawmakers are considering laws to improve their safety. Bills in Albany would increase fines for speeding and distracted driving, and create a highway safety corridor–the first of its kind in the state–with enhanced signage and new technology to warn drivers as they approach dangerous stretches of the parkway.
Remaining alert when driving along Blood Alley is essential given the hazards, including merging vehicles, heavy traffic, other drivers who may be impaired, distracted, or otherwise reckless, unexpected changes in traffic patterns, and even huge potholes is essential when driving along Blood Alley. Defensive driving can help reduce your risk of an accident, but even the safest drivers can end up in an accident on such a dangerous road.
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