This week, Councilmembers Steve Levin and Ydanis Rodriguez introduced a resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass legislation that would lower New York City’s speed limits to 20 miles per hour unless otherwise noted and to give the City Council the authority to impose different speed limits in the city. New York State law currently sets 30 miles per hour as the speed limit in New York City unless otherwise noted.
The chances of survival after being struck by a vehicle increase dramatically when a vehicle travels at a slower speed. A study conducted by the United Kingdom Transportation Department found that a pedestrian has a 45 percent chance of dying if struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour, but when the vehicle is traveling at 20 miles per hour there is only a 5 percent chance of death.
Senator Martin Dilan and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell have introduced legislation in the State Legislature that would allow New York City to lower the city’s speed limit to 20 miles per hour unless otherwise posted.
“The data is conclusive: slower speeds decrease the probability that someone will be seriously injured or killed in a crash,” Levin said. “We have seen time and time again the pain inflicted on families as the result of crashes and we as New Yorkers refuse to stand by and let another person be killed in traffic.”
“Speed kills, plain and simple,” said Rodriguez. “Whether here, or in Albany, we as legislators have a responsibility to protect the lives of our constituents. Easily avoidable traffic deaths devastate our city and we must be given the tools to prevent them. When lives are at stake, death is the price of inaction.”
According to NYPD data, in 2013 alone 268 people – including 168 pedestrians – were killed in traffic crashes in New York City. Additionally, unsafe speed was cited as a contributing factor in over 3,000 collisions that resulted in injuries or fatalities.
While Mayor de Blasio’s ramped-up enforcement has made an impact, the city requires additional tools to realistically address these fatalities,” Dilan said. “City officials feel that targeting trouble areas with lower speed limits can have an impact.”
Assemblyman Joe Lentol agreed and recently wrote to Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg asking for 20 miles per hour zones on some of the more dangerous streets in his district. “Some people argue that lowering the speed limit doesn’t save lives, but science says otherwise,” Lentol said. “We must make the necessary changes to protect the safety of others and Councilmembers Levin and Rodriguez are certainly leading the way.”