Highway Accident Report

Adopted: November 21, 1979
JUNE 8, 1979

NTSB Number: HAR-79/08
NTIS Number: PB80-141435


About 11:05 p.m., June 8, 1979 a Buick sedan, with eight occupants, was westbound on the Grand Central Parkway In New York City. The Buick, while in the acceleration lane of the 188th Street westbound, parkway entrance ramp, passed another westbound vehicle at a high rate of speed. Upon re-entering the parkway through lanes, the Buick veered out of control to the left, vaulted the median guardrail, and collided with three eastbound passenger cars. Two passengers in the Buick and the drivers of two eastbound cars were killed; 10 persons were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the Buick driver's loss of vehicle control which resulted from driver intoxication, excessive speed, and sharp steering maneuvers while passing another westbound vehicle. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the failure of the substandard median barrier system to contain the Buick which vaulted into the opposing lanes of traffic.


As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

to the New York State Department of Transportation:

"Replace substandard median barrier on the Grand Central Parkway with an operational system that conforms to current standards. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-79-48)"

to the New York City Department of Transportation:

"As an interim measure, remove soil buildup from the median on the Grand Central Parkway and from similar locations in the City where an accumulation of soil has reduced the effective height of the guardrail. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-79-49)"

to the Governor, New York State:

“Expand the New York State traffic records system so that it complies with Highway Safety Program Standard 10 (Traffic Records) and provides managers of the motor vehicle transportation system of New York City with essential information that is accurate, timely, and in a usable format. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-79-50)"

to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

"Investigate the level of implementation by New York State of Highway Safety Program Standard 10 (Traffic Records) particularly with regard to New York City. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-79-51)"