New York City Roads & Lower Speed Limits – Traffic Deaths & Reckless Driving

Lever Ecker September 24, 2020 Personal injury

As fatal collisions and car accidents steadily rise, New York City officials are lowering speed limits on nine major streets that are considered some of the most dangerous. According to city data, there have already been more traffic-related deaths this year than in all of 2019. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the city’s traffic levels have died down tremendously, leading to a dramatic increase in speeding and reckless driving on major roads. Even as lockdown restrictions have lifted and traffic patterns are getting back to normal, speeding and aggressive driving continues to be an alarming issue.

New York City Accident Statistics in 2020

  • 28 drivers, 16 vehicle occupants, and 26 motorcyclists have lost their lives. More than were killed in 2019.
  • During lockdown in March, the number of speed camera violation tickets being issued on a daily basis nearly doubled, from 12,672 one day at the end of February to 24,765 at the end of March.
  • Traffic rose in June to 80 percent of where it was prior to the pandemic, and the rate of traffic fatalities rose 22 percent higher for drivers and passengers than in June of the previous year.
  • In July, traffic deaths increased by 300 percent when compared to the same month in 2019.
  • Nationwide, there was a 12 percent increase in fatalities in March, 34 percent increase in May, and 23 percent increase in June, in comparison to the same months in 2019.

Speed Limit Changes

The speed limit will drop to 25 miles per hour (mph), which is the standard limit for most of the city’s roads, on eight different streets. Those include portions or the entirety of:

  • Riverside Drive in Manhattan;
  • Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn;
  • Northern Boulevard in Queens;
  • Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx;
  • Shore Parkway Service Road in Brooklyn;
  • Dahlgren Place in Brooklyn;
  • Webster Avenue in the Bronx; and,
  • Targee Street in Staten Island.

The speed limit on the ninth street, Rockaway Boulevard in Queens, will decrease to 35 mph from 40.

The Safety Benefits of Lowering Speed Limits

When pedestrians or bicyclists get hit by a passenger vehicle that is traveling at 30 mph, they are about 70 percent more likely to be killed than when hit by a vehicle going 25 mph. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cutting the average speed limit by five percent can result in a 30% decrease in traffic fatalities and in turn increase traffic safety. Approximately 90 percent of victims survive traffic accidents when motor vehicles are traveling at 20 mph.

In 2014, a New York City law went into effect, dropping the default speed limit throughout the city to 25 mph. From 2014 to 2018, there was a consistent decline in fatal vehicle crashes.

Although the city is taking steps to reduce speeding and reckless driving, there may be additional unprecedented challenges still looming as a result of the pandemic. With sales of vehicles, bicycles, and scooters skyrocketing due to subway system cuts, more decisive action may need to be taken in order to regain street safety and prevent gridlock.