New York City adopts Sammy’s Law to lower road speeds and protect lives

Main Image

New York City will be able to lower the urban speed limit to 20mph thanks to dedicated campaigning by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets over several years.

Provisions have been made in the New York State Assembly budget for Sammy’s Law to be passed following campaigning over the past four legislative sessions. The FIA Foundation and the Child Health Initiative supported the final advocacy push in 2023/4 with funding and collaboration.

The campaign was spearheaded by Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son Sammy was killed while crossing a Brooklyn street. In the past decade, 108 children have died after being hit by vehicles on New York City streets.

Every child has a right to a safe and healthy journey. Similar laws save lives around the world. Cities are increasingly making speed policy decisions based on local evidence, cutting speed from 30mph to 20mph, driving down traffic casualties. From London to Helsinki, Pleiku to Tunis, Fortaleza to Bogota, cities are cutting speeds to save lives. In the United States, cities like Seattle, WA, Minneapolis, MN, and Washington DC, have already adopted 20mph on neighbourhood streets.

The Child Health Initiative showed the support of the international community, by writing an open letter to the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Carl E. Heastie, advocating for New York to adopt Sammy's law in line with international best practice. Read the full letter here. Last year former FIA Foundation Chair Lord Robertson also wrote to Speaker Heastie urging support for the measure.

Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation Executive Director, said: “This is a fantastic result for New York City, as well as Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets. We are delighted and proud to have played a role in supporting this achievement. Low-speed streets make the difference between life and death for a child in a road crash. The greatest tragedy is that young lives like Sammy’s are lost before change happens; decision-makers need to understand that 20mph speed limits where children and traffic mix are popular and vital.”