The Southern State Parkway is one of very few major roads linking Long Islanders to Queens, Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. Like many roads in this part of the country, though, its path was determined long before cars could even reach 55 or 60 miles per hour. This week, residents and safety advocates are once again calling for improvements to a stretch of the parkway dubbed "the southern snake" after a fatal crash over the weekend.
The one-car accident occurred in the early morning hours near Exit 23. As he and his passengers headed west, the 30-year-old driver apparently lost control of the vehicle and slammed the car into a tree. Investigators say speed was a factor, and police have charged the driver with reckless driving.
None of the five in the car escaped injury. Two died at the scene. Two others were thrown from the car and remain hospitalized, both in critical condition. The driver lost a leg in the crash but is expected to recover from his injuries.
Residents are not asking for much: Guard rails would be a simple and effective first step, they say. Adding patrols could also help by discouraging drivers from speeding. Whatever happens, though, should happen fast, before the road and winter weather combine to take more lives.
The Southern State Parkway is not the only high-speed road in the area that twists and turns its way along Long Island or through the boroughs. These are roads that local residents know like the backs of their hands, with every curve and blind spot committed to memory. For newcomers, the danger comes in not knowing the terrain and the traffic patterns around individual exits and interchanges. For the old hands, though, knowing the quirks of the route can instill a sense of security that isn't always warranted.
As the accident this past weekend proved, a minor mistake or a moment of inattention or overconfidence can have deadly results.
Source: New York Post, "'Speed' kills in LI horror," Kenneth Garger and Jennifer Bain, Jan. 28, 2013
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