Brooklyn Boro

Advocates for safer speed limits push for Sammy’s Law

It would allow NYC to set its own speed limits

May 11, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, Council Member Christopher Marte, Council Member Carlina Rivera, and Council Member Shahana Hanif joined members of Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, and other advocates to rally in support of Sammy’s Law, legislation that would allow New York City to finally have autonomy over its own speed limits, at City Hall Park this morning.

After the lifesaving legislation wasn’t included in the final state budget, the City Council must pass a home-rule message in support of the bill, and then Sammy’s Law must pass through the State Assembly and the State Senate before it can be signed into law by the governor.

Sammy’s Law is named for Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year-old boy killed by a speeding driver in Brooklyn in 2013 just a few blocks from his home. Since his tragic and preventable death, more than 2,222 people, including 96 children, have been killed in traffic violence in New York City.

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“To save lives across the five boroughs, New York City must have the ability to set its own speed limits,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “Speeding kills more New Yorkers than drunk drivers and distracted drivers combined – and pedestrians and cyclists, especially in high-poverty neighborhoods, are especially vulnerable. Legislators in New York City and Albany can save lives by supporting and passing Sammy’s Law, finally giving New York City the autonomy to set its own speed limits.”

“We’ve been fighting to lower the speed limits in New York City since my son was killed by a speeding driver ten years ago,” said Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets. “Sammy’s Law builds on these efforts and will save lives – but the Assembly must step up to get this done this session. The bill was introduced on Sammy’s 20th birthday. He would have turned 23 this year. We cannot wait any longer. We know how to prevent crashes and save lives in every neighborhood across the city. Our leaders on the City Council and in Albany have the power to take action this session and lead the nation on street safety.”

“New York desperately needs safer streets. Last year, the city recorded the highest number of child traffic fatalities since the start of Vision Zero. These are preventable, innocent deaths, and New York must act now to reverse this tragic trend. Sammy’s Law (S2422A), which allows New York City to lower its own speed limits, is crucial to our efforts. We need a home rule from the City Council as soon as possible so that we can finally enact Sammy’s Law and save lives this session,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal.

“Whenever the City can claim more authority over the safety of our own streets, we should seize it, which is why I support Sammy’s Law,” said NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “A record number of children were killed in traffic last year, many in long-neglected outer boroughs and communities of color. Lowering speeds – paired with traffic-calming measures and infrastructure improvements – can help keep our streets safe. If the State passes Sammy’s law, I look forward to leading a robust discussion in the Council’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as we evaluate where speeds can and should be lowered.”

“Far too many families have been torn apart by traffic violence. And what makes each loss of a loved one even more heartbreaking is the fact that they are preventable losses,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Allowing New York City to set its own speed limits is a common sense move that, along with other key street safety reforms, can help save lives and ensure our roadways are safe for all who use them. Thank you to my government and community colleagues for your tireless advocacy as we work to prevent additional needless loss of life.”

“Our streets belong to the people, and this city has a right to establish the mechanisms we know will keep us safe,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “The State has no excuse to not pass Sammy’s Law other than to admit that cars matter to them more than our people do – but that is something we in this city will never accept. A quicker commute is not worth the loss of one of our own. Thank you to my fellow elected officials, Families for Safe Streets, and Transportation Alternatives for holding our State leaders accountable and championing the passage of Sammy’s Law.”

“We can not leave the legislative session without passing Sammy’s Law. Letting New York City control its speed limit is a no brainer, and will literally save lives. In another year of carnage on our streets we need everyone to make a commitment to making our street safer. We know what to do. It’s time for every single person to feel safe walking down the street,” said State Senator Andrew Gournardes.

“Passing Sammy’s Law will help bring an end to the epidemic of traffic violence we see across New York City,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “More children were killed by speeding and reckless drivers last year than any other year since Vision Zero was announced in 2014. We know that even small reductions in the speed limit can dramatically reduce injuries and deaths; it is time that we pass this law to give New York City the authority to set its own speed limits. I am committed to working with Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives and others to finally pass this bill into law, in Sammy Eckstein’s memory, to protect other families from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one because of the actions of a careless driver.”

“The most important job of government is to keep our communities safe. Like many other parents, I have experienced the tragedy of children being killed because of speeding vehicles in my district. As a mother and legislator, I call for our legislature to pass Sammy’s Law immediately and before we end our session this year. Lives depend on it,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

“Thus far, 2023 has been the third most fatal when it comes to traffic violence since Vision Zero was launched. My own district has lost too many lives, including that of 7 year old Dolma Naadhun. When Seattle lowered speed limits on residential streets to 20mph, injury-crashes fell by 17%. We know what measures save lives on our streets, and there is no excuse not to enact those policies. We need to pass Sammy’s Law and give NYC the right to set speeds that are appropriate for the safety of our communities,” said Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani.

“Since 2013, we’ve lost 2,222 people due to traffic violence. Cars moving more than 25 MPH are increasingly likely to cause injury and death to pedestrians and tragically this happens more frequently in BIPOC communities. I’m proud to stand with Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives to pass Sammy’s Law, so that New York City can set its own speed limits, making our streets safer for everyone and helping us reach our goal of becoming a truly pedestrian friendly city,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.

“Crashes as a result of speeding has become a major issue across New York City. Sadly, it has resulted in loss of life. These tragedies are preventable and we have an enormous opportunity to address it to keep New Yorkers safe. Passing Sammy’s Law must be a top priority as we approach the final weeks of the legislative session,” said Assemblymember Kenny Burgos.

“Passing Sammy’s Law to let New York City set lower speed limits will save lives,” said Assemblymember Tony Simone. “Lower speed limits mean safer streets and New York City should have the right to decide for itself what is safe.”

“It’s mind-boggling that we have solutions to prevent traffic crashes, and that we are not implementing them with full force. In the 10 years since Sammy Cohen Eckstein was tragically killed by a speeding driver, we continue to see preventable pedestrian and cyclist deaths. The State Legislature must pass Sammy’s Law to give New York City the ability to set its own speed limits and save lives. Thanks to Amy Cohen, Families for Safe Streets, and Transportation Alternatives for fighting for safer streets,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

“If you want to see what traffic violence looks like, look no further than 2022,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “More children were killed in 2022 than in any other year since Vision Zero was implemented. As a parent, I cannot fathom the pain and sorrow the families of these children must be feeling. It is clear that we must do more to protect our children, and the passage of Sammy’s Law is a critical piece in this fight.”

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