What to Know
- The Sunrise Highway on Long Island has seen 21 wrong-way incidents since 2010
- There are 33 exits that are missing "Wrong Way" and "Do Not Enter" signs as mandated by the state DOT
- DOT says it's investigating and expects to have answers this week
The Department of Transportation says it is "taking immediate action" a day after the I-Team reported that dozens of traffic warning signs are missing on a Long Island highway with a deadly history of wrong-way crashes.
The I-Team investigation found 33 exits on the Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County do not have the “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter" signs mandated by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Exit ramps are the way most wrong-way drivers enter a highway.
The DOT initially told the News 4 I-Team it's investigating why the signs are missing. After the I-Team report aired, the department said in a statement it is "taking immediate action to install signs on Sunrise Highway ramps to enhance safety on the highway."
Suffolk County state Sen. Phil Boyle said he was stunned to learn of the missing signs.
"It's a forgotten highway, and I don't want it to turn into the next 'highway of death,'" he said. "The fact is, we saw the I-Team report, we couldn't believe the results and immediately contacted the state DOT to put up the proper signage and potentially save lives."
"Every few months, we hear of drivers driving the wrong way on Sunrise Highway," said Suffolk County assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre.
"I am not surprised at the increase in wrong-way accidents on Sunrise Highway in light of the fact that the NYSDOT doesn't meet its own criteria for warning signs in several locations," said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine.
"I commend WNBC for undertaking this investigation, which hopefully encourages the NYSDOT to make the needed improvements and to look at other methods to increase safety on Sunrise Highway," he said.
The current standard on Long Island expressways is to have four Wrong Way signs combined with four Do Not Enter signs on exit ramps -- but in the stretch of highway from Babylon to Center Moriches surveyed by the I-Team, 14 exit ramps had only one or two small “Wrong Way” signs – and 10 exit ramps had no warning signage at all. Only five ramps met the state standard.
In 2016, three people were killed in two wrong-way crashes on the highway, including one person hit by an off-duty Suffolk County police officer who was allegedly drunk behind the wheel. Those crashes were among 21 wrong-way incidents on the Sunrise Highway since 2010, according to a News 4 review of police and media reports.