Interstate 495, also known as the Long Island Expressway (LIE), runs just over 71 miles through Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. As it is New York, most drivers are not surprised at the often-congested driving conditions. However, this stretch of the freeway can be shockingly deadly, according to numbers released by the NHTSA Fatality Accident Reporting System. The flat four-lane stretch of road is a dream for drivers who want to put the pedal to the metal. Some do, with multiple reports of drivers clocking 100+ mph on the road. Add in texting, impatience, and inattentive driving, and you have the makings of a perfect storm.
Between 2007 and 2016 there were more than 600 accidents on the Expressway, with 265 of those resulting in fatal injuries. While there were plenty of crashes that stretched across the entire expressway, there were several stretches of the LIE that are home to most of the deadly incidents.
Most Dangerous Sections of the Long Island Expressway
Over the course of about ten years, these four locations were reported to have 30 accidents and multiple fatal injuries.
LIE & Route 25 – 30 accidents, 15 fatalities
The section of expressway where it crosses Route 25 just North of Bellerose Terrace is one of the deadliest stretches of road on the 495. Between 2007 and 2016, there were 30 accidents; 15 of the accidents had fatal injuries, ten had serious injuries, and another five resulted in minor injuries.
LIE at Maurice Ave – 30 accidents, 15 fatalities
Another 30 accidents resulting in 15 fatalities occurred on the LIE near Maurice Ave. Here Exit 17W to the BQE can cause a lot of confusion as drivers cross lanes to make their exit.
LIE at 69th – 30 accidents, 10 fatalities
In those same years, there were 30 accidents on the section of freeway that crosses 69th. Of those accidents, 10 involved fatal injuries, 5 included serious injuries, another five were minor, and 10 had no injuries.
It is worth noting that this particular spot is troublesome in part because many truck drivers choose stretches of road in this area to pull over and sleep, according to The New York Daily News.
LIE and BQE – 30 accidents, 5 fatalities
Thirty more accidents on the 495 east of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, resulted in 5 fatal injuries, and 20 minor injuries. The other five accidents had no injuries.
LIE Near Utopia Parkway – 30 accidents, 5 fatalities
There were another five fatalities and 20 serious injuries in 30 accidents on the LIE near Utopia and Auburndale. Five of the incidents resulted in no injuries.
There were several commonalities among these locations including on-ramps and intersections.
Pedestrian Accidents on the LIE
In this same 10-year period there were 98 pedestrians involved in accidents on the LIE. In seventy-seven of those cases, there were fatal injuries. That means 41% of all fatal accidents on the LIE were pedestrians. One would have to wonder what pedestrians are doing on the highway?
In some cases it appears that individuals are actually trying to cross the LIE when they are struck, some are standing along the side of the road due to car troubles. Some there is no explanation while others are possible suicides.
Other Dangerous of the LIE
In reviewing the data, we noticed a few other noteworthy trends drivers should consider when heading out on the road:
- Most of the vehicle accidents occurred in the months of January (125), August (86), June (66), November (54), and October (53). The lowest number of accidents occurred in February (27), September (28), May (28), and March (29). An influx of tourists and more New Yorkers hitting the road for vacation, likely affect the higher summer numbers.
- It might be a surprise that most of the accidents did NOT occur during the morning commute or at rush hour after work. Most of the incidents occurred between 4 and 5 a.m. (104), followed by 5-6 a.m. (70), Midnight-1 a.m. (68), and 3 a.m. -4 a.m. (50).
- None of the reported accidents occurred between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Other low accident times include 6 to 7 p.m. (3) 7 to 8 p.m. (3), 8-9 p.m. (4), 11 a.m. to noon (4), and 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. (4).
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 36 percent of car accidents occur while vehicles are crossing or turning at an intersection (which supports the data collected regarding accidents on the LIE). Additionally, 40 percent of all accidents were due to a decision error on the part of one or more of the drivers including driving too fast for conditions, driving too fast for a curve, an illegal maneuver, and aggressive driving.
No matter which stretch of the LIE you plan on traveling, you can take extra steps to ensure you are as safe as possible. Always wear your seatbelts, follow posted speed limits, and pay attention to other drivers. A little extra consideration could be the difference between getting to your destination safely and a potentially deadly accident.