The New York Sate Assembly failed to pass street safety legislation before ending its legislative session last week. As StreetsBlog reports, even though the State Senate passed a bill empowering New York City to determine its own speed limits, the Assembly declined to hold a vote on the bill. State lawmakers could still call a special session to vote on the legislation.
The bill that passed the State Senate, “Sammy’s Law,” did so by a 54-59 vote. The legislation is named for Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year-old “killed by a reckless driver in Brooklyn in 2013,” according to StreetsBlog. Senator Brad Hoylman sponsored the bill, which would reassign power to set New York City’s speed limits from the state government to the city government. If the bill is passed, New York City would join municipalities like Portland and Cambridge in gaining control over their own speed limits. In a statement about the bill, he said: “Sammy’s Law is a monumental piece of legislation that will make our streets safer for decades to come. As New York City is in the midst of a crisis of vehicular violence, it makes absolutely no sense that Albany has control over the City’s speed limits.”
Sammy’s Law is part of a broader legislation package aimed to reduce car crashes, injuries, and deaths, and to make streets safer in New York. There’s also a Speed-Safety Camera Improvement bill which would allow for 24-hours-a-day implementation of speed cameras in New York City, as well as steeper penalties for serial speeders; the Traffic Crash Victim Bill of Rights, which would entitle car crash victims the right to receive crash reports and go to impact hearings, among others; a bill allowing for “prosecutions of drivers for committing one moving violation instead of requiring two wrongful acts such as speeding, running a red, failure to yield, etc,” and which would adjust current dangerous driving law such that prosecutors would not have to prove that drivers “willfully committed a violent act with a car”; a bill lowering New York’s blood alcohol concentration limit from .08% to .05% for vehicle drivers; and a bill clarifying the meaning of “safe distance” when motorists overtake cyclists.
In a statement about the Assembly’s failure to pass the legislation, street safety advocate Amy Cohen, mother of Sammy Eckstein Cohen, said in a statement on behalf of Families for Safe Streets: “New Yorkers will die because the State Assembly failed to act. We are outraged that the Assembly adjourned without passing Sammy’s Law and the full Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act this session. Traffic deaths are skyrocketing statewide. The Senate overwhelmingly approved Sammy’s Law 58-5. The Assembly should be taking action. Instead they turned a blind eye to this public health crisis. They should be ashamed”
More information on these bills, and others in the street safety legislation package, is available via StreetsBlog.