Expectations v Reality in Long Island Road Accidents

If you’re from Long Island, you probably have opinions about traffic and car accidents–the best and worst times to start the daily commute, which routes to avoid, and when to stay home rather than venturing out; but what if those assumptions turned out to be wrong?

  1. Weather: Here’s one that might surprise you–accident data from 2016 suggests that drivers are far more likely to be involved in a crash in clear weather than in adverse conditions. Of roughly 2,000 accidents reported on Long Island in 2016, only a little over 100 were due to rain, sleet, hail, or snow, which is only about 5 percent.

If you’re from the tri-state area, you know how much we hate our weather. Between icy roads in the winter and coastal flooding in the summer, the Northeast often struggles to get people where they want to go–adverse conditions can clog already-crowded roads and send drivers on collision courses with one another. To make matters worse, factors brought on by climate change are causing the Northeast’s climate to become more and more extreme, the Union of Concerned Scientists published an entire paper on this in 2006. However, statistically speaking, you’re actually far less likely to be involved in a crash while driving in bad weather. 

            2. Types of Collisions: Commuters of the tri-state area have witnessed it all (rear endings, merging collisions, ‘t-bone’ style crashes, etc.) and hoped to never be involved in the situations they see, but if an accident happens, what kind of collision are you most likely to have? Here’s the rundown based on the same 2016 data.

Whether this comes as a surprise of not, the largest statistical danger to drivers on the island is being rear-ended. Out of the 2016 data set, rear-end collisions came in first followed by right angle crashes (or ‘t-bone’ crashes) and overtaking from another lane. The majority of rear-end collisions occurred in Nassau County, likely due to the higher volume of traffic. The good news is that the situation LEAST likely to cause an accident was making a right hand turn–only 15 of over 1,000 crashes in 2016 occurred while the driver was turning right at an intersection. So rest easy the next time you’re turning right–you’re (statistically speaking) in good hands. 

                3. Location: A third factor drawn from the 2016 data is the frequency of accidents across the municipalities of Long Island, in other words, figuring out which towns you’re the most likely to have an accident in. The town with the most accidents in 2016 was Hempstead, followed by Oyster Bay and Brookhaven. There isn’t an all-encompassing factor that ties these three together apart from the fact that they are all densely populated compared to the easternmost part of the island. 

Regardless of our expectations and the real-deal when it comes to the road, the best way to stay safe (especially around the holidays) is to take it slow and not take your eyes off the road. 2014 data shows that about one third of accidents in New York that year were caused by speeding, while of almost one-fifth were caused by distracted driving. Newsday reported that 2017 saw far less traffic deaths on the island due to  “safer cars, red light cameras, and enhanced EMS training,” however car accidents remain the top cause of injury related death in New York–but with some minimization of risk and knowing the statistics, we can all get where we’re going safely.