On October 19, 2022, United States Senator Chuck Schumer called for a federal Road Safety Audit (RSA) for Long Island. Senator Schumer’s formal request to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) pointed out found that roads including State Routes 25 and 27 are among the most dangerous in the state. The request referenced a four-year analysis of Long Island crashes by Newsday, which used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
Both Nassau and Suffolk County rank among the highest in New York state for auto fatalities. According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, Suffolk County led the state in 2020 in motor-vehicle crashes (32,154) and fatalities (113). Nassau County second in accidents (29,666) and third in fatalities (78). Queens ranked third in accidents and second in fatalities in 2020. Brooklyn was fourth in both categories.
According to Newsday analysis of the period 2016-2020, more people died in auto accidents on State Routes 25 and 27 than on any other Long Island roads. Federal data for 2016-2020 indicates the following:
- NY State Route 25 – known as Jericho Turnpike and Middle Country Road – 62 fatalities, including 18 pedestrians and four cyclists;
- NY State Route 27 – 61 fatalities, including 22 pedestrians and three cyclists;
- NY State Route 25A – 26 fatalities, including five pedestrians and one a cyclist;
- Suffolk County Route 80 – 20 fatalities, including two pedestrians and one cyclist;
- NY State Route 24 – 19 fatalities, including eight pedestrians and two cyclists.
Senator Schumer notes that these roads are particularly dangerous because, in many places, they must serve as both a street and a road, for local life and business, as well as rapid throughput.
A Road Safety Audit is a formal safety performance examination. Conducted by an independent, multidisciplinary team, it assesses potential road safety issues and identifies opportunities for safety improvements. The United States Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) works on the audits with state and local agencies to answer two key questions in a final report: what elements of a road present a potential safety concern; what opportunities exist to eliminate or mitigate that concern? According to Senator Schumer, Schumer the RSA is particularly important because the federal agency can augment local efforts with technical expertise.
Senator Schumer referenced a $5 billion federal grant program, passed in August 2022, called ‘Safe Streets for All,’ as a funding source for the audit. Senator Schumer also referenced a provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), called Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as another potential funding source for safety improvements. Other funding sources include the U.S. DOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), which already allocates substantial funds to New York.
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