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New law allows New York communities to lower speed limits

The Law Office of Mindy Paget Brill

In the past, the state of New York had a law that prevented municipalities within its borders from setting speed limits of less than 30 miles per hour. The governor recently signed a law that changed that.

According to the Governor’s Press Office, the bill gives New York villages, towns and cities the authorization to lower local speed limits to 25 miles per hour.

What is the rationale behind the new law?

Research has shown a correlation between fatalities and serious injuries from motor vehicle collisions and higher speed. This is especially true when the collision involves a pedestrian. Supporters of the new law hope that allowing municipalities to set lower speed limits will reduce the number of traffic deaths and improve overall traffic safety.

Data collected over the past few years shows that traffic fatalities in New York are trending upward. They increased by 18.4% from 2020 to 2021, and within just the first three months of 2022, traffic fatalities showed another jump of 44%. The hope is that allowing municipalities to set lower speed limits will reverse that trend.

Does the new law require speed limits to change?

The new law does not automatically lower speed limits, nor does it compel any municipality to do so. It merely gives municipalities the option to lower speed limits below the previously mandated minimum. Ultimately, the decision whether to lower the speed limits or not is up to the governing body of each individual municipality.

The governor signed another piece of legislation related to traffic safety at the same time. The second bill increases the fines a driver can incur for leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it to authorities.

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