Alcohol plays major role in AC Expressway crashes

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alcohol plays major role in A.C. Expressway crashes.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — State police say a driver was killed after he was trapped in a car that crashed into a toll plaza on the Atlantic City Expressway and became engulfed in flames. “Before anybody could see what happened, I took five shots: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” he recalled, reenacting the scene with five karate chops. Brian Polite said that 39-year-old Joseph Crawford, of Egg Harbor City, died in the accident Friday morning around 10:30 at the Egg Harbor toll plaza. It was one of 70 expressway crashes that involved alcohol in 2009 and part of a trend that’s been unfolding on the South Jersey highway for at least a decade, according to data analyzed by The Press of Atlantic City. While the number of expressway crashes fell in recent years, alcohol continued to have an outsized role on the 44-mile stretch from Atlantic City to greater Philadelphia.

When a police officer responds to a crash and believes a driver has been drinking alcohol, the crash is classified as “alcohol-involved” by the state Department of Transportation, an agency spokesman said. Alcohol was involved in 2.8 percent of parkway crashes last year, the data show. “Even 2.8 percent’s too high,” said Bill Elliott, whose 22-year-old son, Navy Ensign John Elliott, was killed in a July 2000 collision with a drunken driver on a rural road in Salem County. “Some people think it’s a problem we can live with,” he said. “Other people, like me, think that when you get that knock at 4 in the morning that says your son’s dead, it’s not a problem we can live with.” About 15 years ago, Elliott founded the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, a nonprofit that, among other initiatives, promotes the use of designated drivers by lauding them on billboards. While the data do not detail drivers’ departure and destination points, there’s a consensus among law enforcement and transportation officials that the expressway’s high rate of alcohol-involved crashes reflects a simple reality: Booze is served 24-7 at milepost zero: Atlantic City.

Nine westbound crashes occurred on the first 5 miles of the expressway, just past the road’s Atlantic City on-ramp in Midtown, according to the data. He’s still got a sharp eye for spotting drunks on the road (distracted drivers often swerve, then jerk their vehicles into alignment; drunks tend to glide toward the side of the road and slowly correct their path).

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