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New York City drops speed limit to 25 mph: will it help?

It’s a simple act carried out millions of times each New York City day: walking across the street. Because our streets are congested with cars, buses, cabs and other motor vehicles, walking across the street can be a dangerous activity.

In an effort to make street-crossing safer, the city recently reduced the default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph, unless otherwise posted. And though Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed into law parts of “Vision Zero,” a safety plan to reduce traffic deaths in the city, grim statistics continue to mount. Our newspapers regularly feature articles on pedestrian accidents in which someone is badly injured or killed as they try to cross a street on foot.  

Transportation Alternatives, the organization behind “Vision Zero,” argues that the reduced speed limit will save lives.

On its website, Transportation Alternatives says a person hit by a car going 40 mph has a 70 percent chance of dying. When a vehicle going 30 mph strikes a person, the chance that the person will die is 20 percent. If the car is going 20 mph, the chance of a fatality is down to 2 percent.

The New York Times reported that on the first day of the new speed limit, there were few signs that drivers were slowing down. “It’s like NASCAR out there,” one pedestrian told a reporter.

A former traffic commissioner said drivers won’t slow down unless the city starts issuing speeding tickets for violating the new, reduced limit. The city says it has no immediate plans to launch such an initiative.

After a pedestrian accident, injury victims and families of those killed in the crashes often pursue justice in court. In that way, they can hold accountable the person who caused the damages. A discussion with a personal injury and wrongful death attorney can help clarify your legal options.

Source: New York Times, “25 M.P.H. Speed Limit Takes Effect in New York,” Benjamin Mueller, Nov. 7, 2014

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