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NYC speed limit may drop to 20 MPH after Sammy's Law signed by Gov. Hochul. Here's what drivers should know.

Sammy's Law signed by Gov. Hochul, allowing NYC to lower speed limits
Sammy's Law signed by Gov. Hochul, allowing NYC to lower speed limits 02:07

NEW YORK -- New York City's speed limit may soon be lowered to 20 MPH. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Sammy's Law on Thursday, which grants New York City the authority to lower the citywide speed limit from 25 MPH. 

If approved by the New York City Council, the maximum speed limit would drop to 20 MPH, but it could be as low as 15 MPH in designated "slow zones" to help control traffic. 

"New York City will be able to take back its streets," Hochul said at the bill signing. "What that means, we're taking back the streets, making them safer for people, slowing down drivers and saving lives."

The law has Mayor Eric Adams' support, but the City Council must approve any new speed limits first. 

"Years ago, when I was a state senator, we started a campaign of decreasing the speed limit with some of the advocates then, and little did we know that the people who stand behind us, Families for Safe Streets, they stated that we're going to turn our pain into purpose," said Adams. 

Fighting for Sammy's Law for a decade

New York state lawmakers passed Sammy's Law in April. It was named after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who was struck and killed by a driver in Park Slope, Brooklyn in 2013. 

Amy Cohen has been fighting for a slower speed limit since her son's death. 

"This is a joyous, but bittersweet moment," said Cohen, an advocate with Families for Safe Streets. "With this legislation, I hope we can learn more children's names because of their accomplishments, their personalities and their spirit, not their final moments." 

Hochul said the city should always have had the power to lower its speed limits without Albany's permission, and that the new law will reduce the risk of death in some traffic accidents.

"Five miles per hour makes a difference between life and death," said Hochul. 

There are exceptions for major thoroughfares in the outer boroughs.

"All streets are not the same and we should not have a speed limit within the entire city based on the makeup of one belief or philosophy," said Adams. 

New Yorkers unsure if drivers will slow down 

Some New Yorkers are not convinced slower speed limits will make a difference. 

"I think New Yorkers are gonna drive how New Yorkers are gonna drive," said Beth Higgins, from Park Slope. 

"They will definitely be speeding past," said Neisha Worrell, from Crown Heights. "More road rage." 

Under Sammy's Law, the lower speed limits can only be applied to roads with fewer than three lanes, but Hochul said that could change in the future. 

A 60-day public comment period must be held before any changes. 

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