The state of New York is famous for its diverse range of attractions, which includes the iconic skyscrapers of Manhattan and the pristine beauty of the Adirondacks. However, the state also faces the challenge of some of the most dangerous roads in the country, particularly during the summer months when traffic is at its peak. Out of all the highways in the state, Interstate 90 stands out as notably hazardous.
What Is Interstate 90?
Stretching across 3,020 miles from Seattle, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts, Interstate 90 is the longest interstate highway in the United States. This impressive thoroughfare cuts across 13 states, including New York, where it covers 385 miles from the Pennsylvania border to the Massachusetts border. Along its route in New York, it passes through major cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany, making it an essential transportation option for the state. Moreover, it is a crucial component of the New York State Thruway system, a toll road that links various regions within the state.
Why Is Interstate 90 So Dangerous?
According to a recent study by Geotab, a company specializing in fleet management, Interstate 90 has been identified as the most dangerous highway in New York. The study analyzed fatal crash data from 2015 to 2017 and found that during the summer months of June, July, and August, which are associated with increased road trips and vacations, this highway recorded a staggering 26 fatalities. This indicates an alarming average of 0.07 fatalities per mile, surpassing all other highways in the state.
Interstate 90 poses an increased risk of accidents due to various factors.
- High Speed: Despite a posted speed limit of 65 mph in most sections, some drivers exceed this limit or drive too fast for the prevailing road conditions. Such speeding substantially heightens the chances of losing control of the vehicle, colliding with other vehicles or objects, or failing to react promptly to potential hazards.
- High Volume: As one of New York’s busiest highways, Interstate 90 accommodates an average of 170,000 vehicles daily. During the summer season, this figure escalates due to holiday travelers, tourists, and seasonal workers, leading to congestion, driver frustration, and distractions, which can result in aggressive driving, tailgating, frequent lane changes, or abrupt cutting off of other drivers.
- High Diversity: Interstate 90 plays host to a wide array of vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, RVs, and trailers, each with distinct characteristics. Drivers must be acutely aware of these disparities and adjust their driving behaviors accordingly. For example, trucks possess larger blind spots and require more time and space to brake or maneuver, motorcycles are less visible and more vulnerable, and RVs and trailers can introduce wind resistance and instability on the road.
- High Variability: The highway traverses different terrains and climates across New York, from the flat urban areas of Western New York to the hilly, rural regions of Central and Eastern New York. This results in rapidly changing road conditions, influenced by factors like weather, time of day, and season. Drivers must be adequately prepared for varying circumstances such as rain, snow, fog, ice, wind, darkness, and glare, all of which can impact visibility and traction.
How Can Drivers Stay Safe on Interstate 90?
Driving on Interstate 90 can be convenient and efficient, but it also comes with its own set of challenges and hazards. To ensure a safe journey, drivers must take certain precautions and follow safety guidelines.
- Plan Ahead: Before embarking on a journey, drivers should thoroughly review the weather forecast, traffic conditions, and potential road closures along their route. Planning rest stops, refueling breaks, and overnight stays in advance is crucial. Avoiding peak hours and periods of low visibility, if feasible, is recommended.
- Stay Alert: Distracted driving should be avoided at all costs, which includes refraining from using mobile phones, eating, drinking, smoking, or adjusting radios or GPS devices while behind the wheel. Driving while fatigued, drowsy, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strongly discouraged. Regular breaks every two hours or every 100 miles help prevent driver fatigue.
- Follow the Rules: Drivers must adhere to all traffic laws and signage on Interstate 90, maintaining the speed limit or traveling at a reduced pace if conditions demand. Keeping a safe following distance from other vehicles and using turn signals when changing lanes or making turns is essential. Respecting the rights and space of other drivers and refraining from aggressive or reckless driving behavior is paramount.
- Be Prepared: Ensuring that vehicles are in optimal condition with adequate gas, oil, water, and properly inflated tires is critical. Carrying an emergency kit, containing items like a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, a first-aid kit, water, and snacks, is prudent. Keeping insurance and registration documents readily accessible in case of an accident is also recommended.
Interstate 90 is a crucial thoroughfare linking New York with different states and regions. Unfortunately, it has a reputation for being a dangerous highway that causes multiple fatalities each year. Therefore, it is crucial for drivers to be aware and take proactive safety measures while driving on this road. By planning their journey beforehand, staying alert, following traffic regulations, and being well-prepared, drivers can significantly minimize the chances of being involved in a deadly accident on Interstate 90.