Why Is the Long Island Expressway So Dangerous?

long island expressway

The Long Island Expressway, also referred to as Interstate 495, is a 71-mile highway that runs through three counties on Long Island: Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk. The Interstate directly links New York City and Long Island.

The Long Island Expressway is frequently backed up with traffic congestion, and drivers on this stretch of highway often engage in negligent actions such as speeding and texting, which can lead to crashes. The road’s infrastructure is also crumbling from years of wear and tear. Motorists have long complained about potholes and other structural problems along the highway.

All of these factors have led to an alarming number of accidents over the years, leading some to call Interstate 495 one of the most dangerous highways in the United States.

Causes of Accidents on Long Island Expressway

There are numerous causes of accidents on the Long Island Expressway, but there’s no question that both the roadway’s structural problems and driver negligence have contributed to many accidents on this stretch of road.

  • Potholes and structural problems – Areas along the Long Island Expressway have been plagued by pothole issues for years. In fact, when discussing the infrastructure issues on the Highway, Governor Kathy Hochul remarked, “No one has hit more potholes in the state of New York than I have.”
  • Reckless driving – Unfortunately, careless driving is common on the Expressway. Distracted driving, intoxicated driving, fatigue, speeding, and other behaviors have all led to accidents on Interstate 495. Given the hazardous road conditions, it is more important than ever for motorists to pay attention and remain alert while driving on the Expressway. Many motorists also frequently break the speed limit when driving on this highway, and enforcement has been lacking.
  • Foot traffic – In some areas of the highway, particularly in Queens, there is heavy pedestrian traffic. While pedestrians are not allowed to cross the Expressway itself, they are allowed to cross streets like Queens Boulevard (which runs under the Expressway), which tends to be a very busy area for foot traffic. Drivers who aren’t looking out for pedestrians can end up causing a devastating collision.
  • Inclement weather – On Friday December 24, 2021, there were a shocking number of accidents on the Expressway caused by bad weather. Dozens of crashes were reported in the space of a single day because of snowy and icy conditions, with some accidents resulting in injuries.

According to U.S. News & World Reports, Long Island counties reported some of the highest traffic fatality rates in the state. In 2020, for instance, 113 people died in traffic accidents in Suffolk County, while Nassau County recorded 78 traffic deaths. There were a total of 32,154 motor vehicle crashes in Suffolk County in 2020, more than any other county in New York state.

Upcoming Improvements to the Long Island Expressway

In the fall of 2021, Governor Hochul announced an $83 million plan to improve safety and decrease congestion on the Long Island Expressway through a new construction project. The project will increase road capacity to reduce traffic jams by constructing new auxiliary lanes in Queens. It will also extend entrance and exit ramps onto the Expressway in the Queens area, and replace an aging bridge in Bayside that runs atop the expressway’s east and westbound roadways with a newer, bike-friendly bridge.

In addition, the state will make a $157 million investment in pavement improvements to various roadways including a critical portion of the Long Island Expressway in western and central Suffolk County. The goal of the project is to repair potholes on the highway, which have been a major problem for motorists for many years. In total, the project will repave around 480 lane miles of roadways on Long Island.

How to Stay Safe on the Long Island Expressway

While the state works to make meaningful improvements to the Long Island Expressway, there are still things that motorists can do to prevent accidents, including:

  • Avoiding driving distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, calibrating a GPS, eating and drinking, daydreaming, etc.
  • Remain vigilant behind the wheel, and be on the lookout for potholes and other road hazards so that you have adequate time to slow down or switch lanes
  • Don’t speed or drive too fast for conditions. The faster you travel, the more time and distance your vehicle will need to slow down on the Expressway.
  • Wear a seat belt at all times. Wearing a seat belt can significantly reduce your chances of being killed in an accident.

While these safety precautions can offer you some protection while driving on the Expressway, there’s no way to predict how other motorists will behave. Below, we’ll discuss what you should do if you happen to be involved in a crash.

What to Do If You Are Involved in an Accident on the Long Island Expressway

There are several steps you should take to protect your health and your rights if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident on the Long Island Expressway:

  • Seek medical attention – You should be evaluated by a physician right away, even if you don’t believe you are seriously injured. Your medical records can be used as evidence to support your claim.
  • Document the scene – If you’re able to, you should visually document the scene by taking photos and videos of the damage and of any injuries you suffered. If the accident was caused by an infrastructure issue on the highw such as a pothole, you might be able to file a claim against the government. If a road hazard caused the accident, be sure to snap some pictures of it.
  • Meet with an attorney – Whether you are planning to file a claim with your own insurance provider, a third party’s provider (in the case of a serious injury), or the government, having an attorney to help you navigate the claims process, gather evidence, and negotiate a settlement on your behalf will significantly increase your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.
  • Avoid social media – Insurance claims adjusters are known for browsing claimants’ social media profiles. Avoid saying anything about the accident online, because anything you say could be used to reduce or even deny your claim.

If you are involved in an accident that results in injuries or fatalities, you must report the crash to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. However, we also recommend calling the police to the scene so that they can create their own accident report as well.

Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney

If you were involved in an accident on Long Island, contact a New York City car accident lawyer at Finz & Finz, P.C. for a free, no-risk consultation. If you were injured in the crash, you could be facing steep medical expenses and lost income, not to mention the physical and emotional pain and suffering. At Finz & Finz, P.C., our legal team has the resources to help you seek the financial relief you need to cover these costs. You can reach our office by calling 855-TOP-FIRM.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.