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Daniel O'Donnell

Does Marty Golden Really Need Convincing That Lower Speeds Save Lives?

The Daily News didn't need to send anyone to stand in traffic for man-on-the-street reaction quotes on Dan O'Donnell's bill to lower the speed limit in NYC to 20 miles per hour.

Instead, all they had to do was call up Marty Golden.

With 12 children age 14 and under killed by NYC motorists in the last 12 months, Marty Golden believes lowering the speed limit is an "overreaction."
With 12 children age 14 and under killed by NYC motorists in the last 12 months, Marty Golden believes lowering the speed limit is an "overreaction."
With 12 children age 14 and under killed by NYC motorists in the last 12 months, Marty Golden believes lowering the speed limit is an "overreaction."

[Golden] called O’Donnell’s bill an "overreaction" and warned the lower speed limit would snarl traffic throughout the city.

"Traffic would go nowhere," Golden said. "It would be a disaster and it is not going to eliminate the unlicensed driver who shouldn’t be driving or the driver who’s on drugs or alcohol."

Golden said a better approach would be to stiffen penalties for aggressive drivers -- to "get these morons off the road" -- and to better mark off school zones.

Let us count the straw men. Would traffic come to a standstill if speed limits were lowered to 20 miles per hour? No. Where traffic is gridlocked, it already moves much slower than that. What this bill will do is encourage many people to drive at less lethal speeds on streets where they currently open up the throttle.

Slowing down speeding drivers has nothing to do with catching drunk or unlicensed drivers. It is ridiculous to say that since lowering the speed limit would not solve all traffic-related issues it isn't worth doing.

Albany should certainly stiffen penalties for aggressive drivers. But again, that is a completely separate issue from slowing traffic in general. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle moving at 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of living through the collision. For a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph, the current city speed limit, the chance of survival drops to 55 percent. Further, drivers traveling at 20 mph can more easily avoid collisions in the first place. Research cited by the 20's Plenty For Us campaign shows that lower speed limits reduce collisions overall.

Safe Routes to School is a successful program, but slowing drivers citywide would make kids safer than adding paint and signage near schools, or whatever it is Golden is suggesting.

Golden has a mixed record on safe streets legislation. He sponsored bills to toughen penalties for drivers who leave crash scenes, and to require mirrors on large trucks that let drivers see kids who are in front of them. He was a holdout on allowing speed cameras in NYC, but eventually came around.

It's unclear where his opposition to O'Donnell's bill is coming from, but if Golden is interested in saving the lives of children, he will get behind the effort to lower the maximum legal speed in NYC.

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