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Inadequate Guardrail under Investigation for Fatal Accident

A man lost his family in a deadly auto accident last week when a SUV driven by his wife plunged into a ravine of a New York highway. The woman was traveling on the Bronx River Parkway when she hit the median on an overpass, bounced across three lanes and went airborne before plunging first across a low concrete barrier then over a guardrail 59 feet down into the ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo. The driver and six passengers died, including three children. Police believe a blown tire may have been a contributing factor.

The accident was the second this year in which a vehicle plunged off the same stretch of the Bronx River Parkway. The Bronx River Parkway “lacks modern transportation engineering features,” said Robert Sinclair, spokesman for the American Automobile Association’s New York City affiliate. The group said the guardrail is inadequate and should be eliminated or rebuilt much higher so it can stop vehicles from being catapulted off.

Guardrails must be properly constructed, meet any safety specifications, be installed properly, and serve as an adequate barrier between lanes and the sides of roads. They protect drivers from dangerous curves especially for elevated roads and bridges, or where obstacles such as trees or poles are near the road. Guardrails may not prevent the accident, but they will usually minimize the severity of injuries.

There are still many unanswered questions in this ongoing investigation. The woman appears to have been driving well above the speed limit. Was she just keeping up with traffic? Did she lose control of the vehicle causing her to hit the median or did the tire blow first causing her to lose control? Would these family members be alive today if the guardrail was higher?

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