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Could better roadway signs have prevented tragic Queens crash?

Serious car accidents are not always caused by drivers themselves. Often, collisions are caused by drunk, fatigued, distracted or otherwise reckless drivers, but in some cases there are other parties to blame. For example, General Motors' recent massive recall is a reminder that sometimes defective motor vehicles can result in catastrophe. In other cases, ill-conceived or poorly designed roads and crosswalks or a lack of roadway markings  lead to pedestrian accidents or car accidents. In the aftermath of any car accident that results in injuries or death, it is critical to uncover the cause of the accident and determine who is at-fault in order for victims to seek justice and compensation.

The New York Department of Transportation is currently looking into whether road signage across the city is up to par. The department is tasked with ensuring signs adequately communicate road conditions and other information to drivers. When signs are not in place or are not in good repair, this can lead to car accidents. 

The review was prompted after a tragic car accident took place in Queens earlier this month. On Friday night, five young college students were on their way home from a birthday celebration when their vehicle hit a curb and went over a barrier and into the Steinway Creek. The driver was able to escape the vehicle, but four others were trapped inside of it. They did not survive the car accident.

Police have reported that the driver was driving fast, and he was not aware the road was a dead end until it was too late. When he realized it was a dead end, he quickly tried to turn but he ended up skidding and hitting the curb. He did not have alcohol in his system after the crash and he is not facing any criminal charges, according to a news report.

The DOT has reported that it has been less than one year since new signs were posted near the accident site. The condition of those signs is unclear. The department is going to focus its signage review on roads that end at railroad tracks and creeks. In the meantime, New Yorkers have been asked to remain watchful of any poor signage or dangerous road conditions and to report problems to 311.

Source: NY 1, "DOT to Review Signs Across City in Wake of Fatal Queens Crash," April 8, 2014 Source: New York Daily News, "4 friends dead as car sinks in Queens creek - driver tests sober, gets free, calls 911," April 6, 2014

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