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The Five Leading Causes of NYS Thruway Crashes

Birdseye view of NYS Thruway

For 60 years, the NYS Thruway has helped streamline car travel from Western New York to New York City. While undoubtedly convenient, the NYS Thruway sees thousands of crashes, injuries, and tragedies every year. To help understand why these crashes occur, we need to look at the five leading causes of NYS Thruway crashes.

Careless Driving

One of the most common causes of crashes comes from careless driving, bordering on recklessness. Distracted driving is one of the most significant forms of this phenomenon, sometimes manifesting as texting while driving or becoming so caught up in daydreaming that the driver loses their connection to the road.

In other cases, drivers fail to use their turn signals, weave in and out of traffic or use poor merging techniques. Typically, the more often a driver changes lanes, the more likely they are to cause a serious wreck, especially in heavy traffic.

Poor Weather

Whether it’s lake effect snow or just icy roads, poor weather is a major contributing factor in New York car crashes, especially along the stretch from Buffalo to Syracuse. That’s because many drivers, even those native to the area, don’t know how to safely drive on ice and snow.

Remember that bad weather rarely plays a part in determining who was at fault for the crash. It is each driver’s responsibility to maintain control of their vehicle at all times. If conditions are too rough to continue, you should try to pull over at the nearest rest stop or text stop.

Truck Crashes

As the NYS Thruway is the preferred way of transporting cargo across the state, it’s no surprise that trucking crashes are common. These crashes are often caused by a combination of the factors above. After all, trucks are more susceptible to sliding and jackknifing in icy weather.

Second, many people don’t know how to pass and merge around large trucks properly and can get caught in a truck’s blind spot or merge without giving them enough room to hit the brakes and avoid a crash. In other cases, it’s a matter of trucker error or negligence at the wheel.

Truck accidents tend to be more severe than other crashes as the force of impact is much greater. This means that trucking crashes on the NYS Thruway are often fatal or cause catastrophic injuries.


Speeding is a significant problem on the NYS Thruway. In 2019, state police issued more than 33,000 speeding tickets on the Thruway alone. Despite this, speeding is still a concern and leads to an overwhelming number of fatalities on the road.

Speeding is a double threat. The faster you’re going, the less time you have to respond to oncoming threats, like a deer or a fishtailing car. At the same time, higher speed means a greater force of impact, which means more severe injuries. Federal estimates suggest that 30% of crashes are caused by speeding, and that speeding was a contributing factor in 1-in-4 car crash fatalities.


Each year, thousands of thruway drivers are pulled over and arrested for DWIs. These are especially prevalent on major holidays, particularly the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and New Years’ Eve. On a single holiday weekend, state police will arrest somewhere between 180-250 impaired drivers.

The best thing you can do to avoid drunk drivers is to stay off the Thruway after 9 P.M., report unsafe drivers when you see them, and be extra cautious when driving on holiday weekends.

Moving Forward After an NYS Thruway Crash

If you were injured on the NYS Thruway because of another driver’s negligence, you are not alone. We understand the pain and stress that comes with a car accident, and we are here to help. When you hire an experienced car accident attorney to handle your crash, you can rest and recover while your attorneys handle all of the stresses of managing your case.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash, our Rochester car accident attorneys are here to help. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced attorney from Faraci Lange, LLP, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (888) 997-4110.