NEW YORK—On Nov. 7, the city-wide speed limit drops from 30 mph to 25 mph.
On the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Park Place, blocks away from where 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein was struck and killed by a van, the city launched an awareness campaign to get drivers to slow down.
“Drive like it’s your child could be crossing the street right now,” said Sammy’s mother Amy Cohen. A mere 5 mph can be the deciding factor between life and death, she said.
When Sammy crossed the street to chase a ball, a van and school bus had both stopped for him. A second van driver saw the bouncing ball, but was not able to stop in time to avoid hitting the boy.
At 25 mph, the stopping distance for a vehicle is 20 feet more than what it is for a vehicle moving at 30 mph.
For the next 24 days, several city agencies are embarking on a broad education campaign so drivers know what the new speed limit is and make a habit of it.
“Rather than just handing out fliers on the street, we’re going to engage in the public—the motorists,” said Thomas Chan, the New York Police Department’s chief of transportation. Police officers will be tasked to go out to intersections, knock on windows, and talk to drivers about slowing down.
On some streets where the speed is already higher than 30 mph (like highways), the speed limit will not drop to 25 mph, said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. On other streets, like high-crash areas near schools, the speed may be lowered to something below 25 mph.
“Going from 30 mph to 25 mph is not just a speed reducer—it is a life saver,” Trottenberg said.
Outreach includes radio ads, commercials in taxis, social media, and posters in various areas.