ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A legislative package to enhance street safety laws in New York was signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday. The new laws will hinder traffic-related fatalities and thwart hit-and-run incidents.
“Every New Yorker deserves to feel safe when traveling on our streets, whether they are driving, cycling, or walking,” said Governor Hochul. “These new laws will help prevent senseless tragedies and injuries by cracking down on erratic and irresponsible driving. Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to keeping New Yorkers safe and using every resource available to save lives.”
The two new mandates will allow communities to reduce speed limits to 25 miles per hour and heighten fines for leaving car crash scenes without reporting the incident. Studies show that faster driving speeds interact with more serious injuries and fatalities for pedestrians in the event of a crash. Under current law, the maximum speed limit throughout a city or town may not be set lower than 30 mph.
“Public safety improves when speed limits are lowered. A number of communities throughout the state have expressed a desire to lower their speed limits, including several in my district,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “Municipalities must be granted the authority to take this proactive, effective step to decrease fatalities and the severity of injuries that can result from speed-related accidents.”
Hit and run accidents are wholly dangerous when an individual is hurt and the driver at fault fails to report it; that person may not get the fitting care when they need it. This legislation will increase the minute range for leaving the scene of a personal injury crash to $750-$1,000 and increase the tight range for a repeat violation to $1,000-$3,000.
“Giving municipalities the flexibility to lower vehicular speed on their streets is a huge milestone in vision zero strategy and in reducing traffic violence,” said Daniel Flanzig, Advocacy Chair for the New York Bicycling Coalition. “We are thrilled that Governor Hochul recognizes the importance of this long-needed change. New York has seen an unprecedented increase in hit-and-run crashes in our state over the last few years. By increasing penalties it will deter misconduct and increase safety for our members in every corner of the state.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported earlier this year that traffic deaths during the first half of 2021 had increased 18.4 percent since the first half of 2020, despite many New Yorkers working from home. Statistics from New York City show that traffic fatalities scaled up 44 percent during the first three months of 2022, the most fatal beginning to any year since 2014.