New York speed limit pilot reduces unsafe driving

January 23, 2023

by Christopher Carey

A pilot program in New York City testing intelligent speed assistance (ISA) technology on 50 vehicles in the city’s fleet has resulted in near-universal compliance with local speed laws to date, the city has announced.

Since the pilot project started last August, the vehicles have traveled almost 215,000 kilometers using ISA technology, which adapts speed to local limits, and have been driving within the speed limit 99 percent of the time.

The use of the technology also resulted in a 36 percent reduction in emergency braking, which is often an indicator of unsafe driving.

Each vehicle was equipped with an override button that could temporarily disable speed-limit technology for 15 seconds, which the city said “could be helpful in certain hazardous situations.”

This was used about 600 times during the program.

Preliminary finds

“Preliminary results are in, and our intelligent speed assistance pilot program has been successful in preventing speeding and reducing instances of unsafe driving,” said Dawn Pinnock, commissioner of the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

“Since we started this pilot, our fleet vehicle operators have continued to do the critical work while prioritizing safety for themselves and others.

“We are inspired by this success and look forward to a full evaluation of the pilot in the coming months.”

The ISA pilot is part of the city’s Safe Fleet Transition Plan for urban fleet vehicles, which was updated in 2018.

Based on the results of the pilot, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services has made requests for grant funding to expand the deployment of the technology to 7,500 city fleet vehicles over the next three to four years.

speed camera

New York has also seen a dramatic drop in speeding since speed cameras went on 24 hours a day last August, with violations falling by 25 percent.

The city’s 2,200 speed cameras were turned on full-time after New York State approved a permanent program in June 2022.

Previously, cameras only ran between 6am and 10pm on weekdays – although statistics show more than half of road deaths happen overnight or in the early hours of the morning.

Traffic fatalities in New York City fell in 2022 after rising for three straight years.

In 2022, there were a total of 255 fatalities on its roads, down 6.6 percent from 2021’s 273, but still 23.8 percent more than 2018’s 206.

“The safety of all New Yorkers remains DOT’s top priority in the new year,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “We’re proud that there have been some encouraging trends over the past year, but Mayor Adams has made it clear that when it comes to traffic fatalities across the city, the only acceptable figure is zero.”

In 2013, the year before Vision Zero was implemented, there were a total of 299 traffic fatalities in New York City. That number steadily declined in each of the following years, reaching a low of 206 in 2018, data shows.

Image: jesse-echevarria-unsplash