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Insufficient Guardrails May Have Contributed to Bronx Zoo Car Accident

Last week, a tragic accident left seven dead as the SUV they were traveling in fell from the Bronx River Parkway onto an isolated area of the Bronx Zoo. This was the deadliest New York City auto accident since March 2011 when a tour bus lost control and crashed, killing 14.

According the Police, the Bronx River Parkway accident occurred when the driver bumped a concrete barrier, then, with a tire damaged, swerved across three lanes and hit a 2-foot-high curb, launching the SUV over a 4-foot guardrail. Although Police state the driver was traveling above the posted speed, she may have been simply keeping up with traffic as speeding is common near this area of the parkway. Also, there is no evidence the driver was texting, talking on the phone or drinking, according to police.

Problems with the Bronx River Parkway

Unfortunately, this area of the Bronx River Parkway is no stranger to accidents - this is the second accident along the same stretch of road in the past year where a car fell off the parkway. In fact, three different sections of this parkway - including one near the location of the accident - are listed on New York's Transportation 5 Percent List, which is a list of roads "exhibiting the most severe highway needs."

Also, the American Automobile Association (AAA) recently stated this area of the Bronx River Parkway has narrow lanes, steep hills and inadequate guardrails. In a statement to the Associated Press, Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the AAA's New York City affiliate, said this parkway "lacks modern transportation engineering features."

When discussing the oddity of having a curb on the parkway, Sinclair continued, "You don't put curbs on high-speed roadways because they can serve as launching pads, which appears to be what happened here. A big Honda Pilot flew over a 4-foot guardrail" - leading to his conclusion that an elevated road should have higher guardrails.

Tragically, this devastating and fatal accident may finally encourage lawmakers to do something about this dangerous stretch of roadway.

Source: AP, "AAA: Inadequate guardrails at NY site where 7 died," Jim Fitzgerald, May 1, 2012

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