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Push to boost NY’s statewide speed limit to 70 mph gains momentum

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  • Staff Report 

New York state’s speed limit could potentially increase for the first time since 1995 with a proposal that has been presented before the state legislature. Senator Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, introduced a bill that would raise speed limits along parts of the New York Thruway Authority and other highways from 65 mph to 70 mph for all vehicles.

O’Mara observed the consistent speed limits across multiple states while traveling, which inspired the proposed bill. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New York state has one of the lowest speed limits among the 43 states that have speed limits above 65 mph on some roads. The bill would increase speed on parts of the following highways: Interstate 81, Interstate 481, State Route 481, Interstate 690, State Route 690, State Route 5, State Route 695, and the Thruway.

O’Mara believes that New York should be consistent with states that have higher speed limits, and that he is less concerned about higher speeds leading to less safe roadways since today’s cars have more safety features than those from decades ago. However, research shows that safety could be a concern with the bill. A 2021 study by AAA showed that small speed increases, such as 5 miles per hour, could have effects on crash outcomes. The higher speeds resulted in a higher risk of injury, including death, to the driver.

The proposal’s fate in Albany is uncertain at this time, as the bill has no companion legislation in the Assembly as of this week. Nevertheless, O’Mara claims to have the support of an Assembly Democrat.