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Surprisingly, Route 211 leads the pack

By Chris McKenna and Christopher Mele

It was around dusk one autumn day, and the pavement was slick with wet leaves as 20-year-old Kyle Keys drove along Route 211 to pick up his aunt for her college classes. Then, in a split second, it happened: He reached a sharp curve in Deerpark and lost control, his car sliding into the path of an oncoming car.

The other driver got off lucky, with only a sore neck. Keys didn’t. He died shortly afterward at Bon Secours Hospital in nearby Port Jervis.

That 2003 accident was one of 18 fatal crashes on Route 211 from 2000 to 2005.
And it’s one that exemplifies the Record’s analysis: In our region, rural roads are deadlier than highways.

That series of wrecks also earned the Orange County highway a grim distinction: deadliest road in the region during that six-year period. No other thoroughfare had as many fatal crashes per 100 million miles driven, the Sunday Record has found.

A Record analysis of 37 major road stretches also yielded these surprising findings:
- Roads that have earned a reputation for deadly crashes, such as Route 302 in Pine Bush, don’t rank among the deadliest when compared to others in terms of crashes per miles driven.
- While fast-moving, high-volume roads such as Interstate 84 in Orange County, might have more wrecks overall, the highest fatal crash rates are found on two-lane country roads (some of which widen to four lanes in busy areas).
-  The majority of the fatal crashes occurred in daylight hours in clear weather conditions.
The Record analysis of fatal crashes on roads in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties and the Thruway in Rockland County suggests that drivers are more likely to die on rural roads than on interstates.

Consider Routes 42 and 209 in Deerpark, the rugged, western frontier of Orange County. They had three and four fatal crashes, respectively, but that was enough to rank them fourth- and fifth-deadliest, once traffic volume and road distance were factored in.
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