New York City speed limit to be slowed

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/30/2014

Speed limits on New York City streets could soon be lowered to help protect pedestrians.

On the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s traffic safety campaign to get the state’s permission to lower the city’s 30 mph speed limit by 5 mph, the state Legislature has forwarded a bill to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would permit 25 mph speeds to be posted citywide.

Advocates say the change could mean the difference between life and death.

Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, has referred to numbers from 2013 that show vehicle speed strongly correlates with the likelihood that an accident with a pedestrian will be fatal.

“This bill, by reducing the speed limit on city streets, will protect all of New York City’s pedestrians,” O’Donnell wrote in a memo attached to the bill.

O’Donnell highlighted statistics that show about 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and more than 250 are killed each year in traffic accidents in the city. He said that reduced speeds have been proven to reduce fatality rates and give pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and drivers increased response time.

In addition to the lowering speed limits, O’Donnell said several traffic safety initiatives need to be implemented to reduce preventable pedestrian and vehicle fatalities. He said that contributing factors include driver inattention and failure to yield to pedestrians.

Critics of the plan say it’s an overreaction. They caution about traffic problems that would be created by lowering the posted speed limit. Instead, opponents said they would prefer to see stiffer punishment for aggressive drivers.

The governor is expected to sign A10144 into law.

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