From 2010 to 2012, 16 people were killed at the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Middle Country Road, according to the watchdog group, Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The group reviewed federal data involving vehicle-pedestrian collisions from 2010 through 2012 in downstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The yearly review looked at walkers’ deaths on state, county, and local roads and did not include deaths on roads in which walking is prohibited, such as interstate highways, noted Newsday. Traffic length and volume were also not considered in the annual report.
Jericho Turnpike/Route 25 has long been one of the area’s most treacherous roads; however, this year is the first time that the road has topped the list. Meanwhile, Long Island roads accounted for about half of the top 21 most hazardous roads. “Jericho Turnpike hasn’t had the safety attention that other roads have received from the state Department of Transportation,” said Ryan Lynch, the group’s associate director. “To cross those roads is a very scary endeavor because these roads are very wide and cars are whipping by,” he added, according to the Newsday report.
The Tri-State report found that, in addition to the 16 pedestrians who died while walking on Jericho Turnpike in Suffolk County in the past three years, another 12 died on Hempstead Turnpike and nine people were killed walking on Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County, according to News12.
Jericho Turnpike/Route 25 is a large, multi-lane highway meant to move high traffic volume through both residential and commercial areas. The highway does not have sufficient safety measures—sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian islands—in place, according to the watchdog group, wrote Newsday. Some pedestrian crosswalks on Jericho Turnpike are anywhere from one-half to one mile apart, News12 indicated.
Nearly half of the fatalities occur downstate, according to Lynch, who pointed out that only 14 percent of the highways are downstate, wrote Newsday. Most deaths took place on a portion of Route 25 that is 11.5 miles in length between the towns of Centereach and Ridge, explained Lynch. Centereach Civic Association president, Diane Caudullo, told Newsday that the Route 25 danger is worse this time of the year when sidewalks may not be shoveled, which leads people with no option but to walk in the street.
About six years ago, said Caudullo, the association and town collaborated with transportation officials who implemented improvements, including turning lanes. “I thought we were getting better,” she told Newsday. ” I didn’t realize it was that bad.” In 2011, alone, nine people died on Jericho Turnpike. Another six died in 2012.
“Everybody always puts the blame on drivers, but drivers can only deal with roads as they are engineered,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., a spokesman for AAA New York. “Barring the ability to re-engineer them, we need to get the word out that they are dangerous and hope for compliance on the part of everyone who uses the roads,” he added, according to Newsday. Tri-State Transportation Campaign indicated that the 1,236 area pedestrian deaths point to a need to prioritize pedestrian safety as a policy and investment budget issue.
Nassau County’s 16-mile Hempstead Turnpike/Route 24, came in second this year, along with US 130 in New Jersey. Both roads saw 12 deaths.
The report suggests local and state government should make safe routes for school children, transit passengers, and seniors and suggests using available federal transportation money on road improvement, according to News12.