Brooklyn – Today, Council Members Stephen Levin and Ydanis Rodriguez are introducing 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.
Council Member Stephen Levin said, “The data is conclusive: slower speeds decrease the probability that someone will be seriously injured or killed in a crash. 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. By reducing speed limits in New York City we will save lives and achieve the goals of Vision Zero. I want to thank Senator Dilan and Assemblyman O’Donnell for introducing this legislation at the state level and urge their colleagues for their support.”
“Speed kills, plain and simple,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Whether here or in Albany, we as legislators have a responsibility to protect the lives of our constituents. Easily avoidable traffic deaths are 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.
“The 30mph speed limit we have now is dangerously high and won’t get us to Vision Zero,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Slower speeds give drivers time to react when something unexpected happens, and even if there is a crash, it’s less likely to cause death or serious injury. We need the vast expansion of the 20mph speed limit across our pedestrian-dense city, along with consistent traffic enforcement, and the redesign of the dangerous major streets where most crashes happen.”
Amy Cohen, of Families for Safe Streets said, “We applaud Council Members Levin and Rodriguez for their swift response to our families’ personal appeals, as well as to the expert testimony that provided the facts: 20 mph as a default speed limit will prevent crashes and save lives. We call on the city council and state legislature to pass this law so that other families in our city do no suffer the trauma we have experienced. Please, do not delay.”