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20 mph speed limit could be coming to NYC under new bill

New York state lawmakers set to pass "Sammy's Law." Here's how it'll affect NYC drivers.
New York state lawmakers set to pass "Sammy's Law." Here's how it'll affect NYC drivers. 02:06

NEW YORK -- New York state lawmakers are set to pass "Sammy's Law," allowing New York City to lower the speed limit to 20 mph.

The bill is named after a Brooklyn boy who was killed by a speeding driver more than 10 years ago.

"Together we have poured out our hearts to fight for change, and we are just so thrilled that finally the bill will become law," said Amy Cohen, with Families for Safe Streets.

Cohen has been fighting for more than a decade to lower New York City's 25 mph speed limit in honor of her son Sammy, who was killed by a speeding driver in Brooklyn when he was 12 years old.

"Sammy would be turning 24 this year. As part of this fight, I have met with legislative staff who would have been his age," Cohen said in a video posted to social media Thursday afternoon.

After years of trying to convince Albany lawmakers, Cohen got the bittersweet news:  Gov. Kathy Hochul announced "Sammy's Law" made it into the final budget agreement, giving New York City the authority to lower the limit to 20 mph.

"For them to channel that pain into advocacy that took such a long time, they never gave up, so my view is I want to make sure that we acknowledge that, that we can do whatever we can to protect other children," Hochul said.

But not all drivers are on board.

"Too low as it is. The city's making fits of money. Have you seen all the speed cameras all over the place?" one cab driver said.

"It's definitely annoying to go slower, but safety, maybe in certain zones," Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Danny Parache said.

Lawmakers say more than 2,200 people, including 96 children, have been killed in traffic violence in New York City since Sammy's death.

"The speed that a car is going really can make the difference between life and death, particularly for children," said Alexa Sledge, with Transportation Alternatives.

Cohen hopes reducing the speed limit will spare others the agonizing grief she endured.

"We could not have done this without fighting together to make change to prevent others from suffering heartache my family knows all too well," she said.

The bill still needs to be approved by New York City Council and Mayor Eric Adams, who says his administration has consistently advocated for Sammy's Law.

A City Hall spokesperson released the following statement:

"No family should have to suffer through the loss of a loved one due to traffic violence, and the Adams administration has consistently advocated for Sammy's Law because New York City needs the tools to keep everyone safe on our streets. We worked closely with our state partners and advocates at Families for Safe Streets to get more flexibility to set speed limits in thoughtful, targeted ways, and we are hopeful that this will help prevent senseless tragedies while honoring the life of Sammy Cohen Eckstein." 

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