Sammy’s Law Passes, Granting Authority to Set Speed Limits

Courtesy Jessica González-Rojas’s Office

State Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas celebrate the passage of Sammy’s Law, granting New York City authority over speed limits, in a landmark move to enhance street safety and curb traffic-related fatalities.


State Senator John Liu and Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas joined forces on April 30 to celebrate the passage of Sammy’s Law, a groundbreaking legislation that grants New York City the authority to set its own speed limits.

The measure, which was included in the recently approved FY25 state budget, marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to enhance street safety and reduce traffic-related fatalities in the city.

Named after 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who tragically lost his life in a traffic accident in Brooklyn in 2013, Sammy’s Law empowers the city to lower speed limits from 25 mph to 20 mph and from 15 mph to 10 mph in designated traffic-calming zones, also known as “slow zones.” Notably, roads outside Manhattan with at least three lanes in a single direction will maintain a speed limit of 25 mph.

“Too many lives have been lost to traffic violence, including those of young children, because our laws do not protect them,” Senator Liu said. “Sammy Cohen Eckstein, Allison Hope Liao, Quintas Chen, Bayron Palomino Arroyo, and too many others were all young lives full of promise who were unfairly taken too soon. In a big city like New York, drivers need to slow down. The passage of Sammy’s Law this month is a testament to their legacies, and we now call on the City of New York to act with the same urgency and implement these changes so no more families have to endure the heartbreak of losing a loved one to preventable traffic violence.”

The passage of Sammy’s Law comes at a critical juncture, as recent reports indicate a concerning rise in traffic-related fatalities, particularly in Queens, where 37 percent of this year’s traffic fatalities have occurred. The legislation is a response to this alarming trend, aiming to mitigate the risks associated with speeding and improve overall street safety.

 “Sammy’s Law is a game changer for street safety because it will finally allow New York City to set its own speed limits,” State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, lead sponsor of Sammy’s Law said. “In 2020, I introduced this common-sense traffic safety legislation in memory of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a young man who was fatally struck by a speeding driver just months before his thirteenth birthday. Since Sammy’s tragic death, his mother Amy Cohen has been a relentless champion for street safety through the organization she co-founded, Families for Safe Streets, and has inspired dozens of other family members who’ve lost loved ones to traffic violence to advocate for new traffic policies to save lives. New Yorkers owe them a deep debt of gratitude for helping change the paradigm of traffic safety in Albany.”

Assembly Member González-Rojas, a staunch advocate for safe streets and a key co-sponsor of Sammy’s Law, expressed her enthusiasm for the bill’s passage. She emphasized the importance of addressing the growing pedestrian and cyclist deaths in Western Queens, citing the need for immediate action to prevent further tragedies.

“I am elated at the passage of this bill. It has been a long time coming and hard fought on every level,” González-Rojas said. “There is still more work to be done, but what we have accomplished thus far is incredible progress. Families, like that of 7-year-old Dolma Naadhun who was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing the street with her mother, have experienced unimaginable pain of losing loved ones due to traffic violence. We’ve marched alongside each other in the streets, attended hearings and rallies to get this bill passed. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the families that showed up and advocated for this bill. I am grateful that Sammy’s Law will improve the safety of our streets.”

The significance of Sammy’s Law extends beyond its potential to save lives; it also symbolizes a victory for grassroots activism and community advocacy. Families for Safe Streets, a group composed of individuals who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, played a pivotal role in championing the legislation, along with other organizations and elected officials.

Amy Tam Liao, the mother of Allison Hope Liao and founder of Families for Safe Streets, underscored the lifesaving potential of reduced speed limits, emphasizing the urgent need for the law’s swift implementation.

“Reduced speed limits save lives – and Sammy’s Law will protect countless New Yorkers from traffic violence,” Tam Liao said. “Finally, New York City will be able to set its own speed limits. When I lost my daughter, Allison, the loss tore a hole in my family, my neighborhood, and my community. Every day, I remember her laughter and her spirit, taken from us far too soon. We must protect our youngest and most vulnerable from traffic violence, and Sammy’s Law must be implemented immediately and appropriately.”

As New York prepares to implement Sammy’s Law, stakeholders across the city are hopeful that this landmark legislation will pave the way for safer streets and fewer traffic-related tragedies. With strong support from elected officials, advocacy groups, and community members, the fight against traffic violence continues to gain momentum, driven by a shared commitment to protecting lives and ensuring a safer future for all New Yorkers.

“It’s long past time we take back our streets from speeding drivers and deliver justice to the grieving families of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, Allison Hope Liao, Quintas Chen, Bayron Palomino Arroyo, and too many others,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said. “That’s exactly what the long overdue passage of Sammy’s Law, allowing New York City to finally set its own speed limits, will help us do. I couldn’t be more grateful for the tireless advocacy of groups like Families for Safe Streets, who have turned their pain into progress, and for the work of all our elected partners to get this badly needed bill passed into law.”

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