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New York City Gets Creepy With Speed Limits

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On: Wed, May 18, 2011 at 10:47AM | By: Chris Weiss

New York City Gets Creepy With Speed Limits

Municipalities have all sorts of tricks when it comes to enforcing speed limits. Hidden police cars, flashing road signs that show your actual speed, and dummy patrol cars are just a few ways that towns get creative to get drivers to slow down.

New York City has a new one: morbid creepiness. It's building upon the radar-equipped road sign, adding a new graphic that may just creep the masses into loosening the muscles in their right legs.

Instead of just showing your speed, New York City's new signs will show a graphic of a skeleton alongside a big, bold "Slow Down." The graphic will appear when the signs clock you going over the 30 mph speed limit that exists throughout the city when not alternately designated. If you're under the big 3-0, you'll get a more pleasant sign showing an actual pedestrian and the speed limit.

New York plans to unveil the first public signs of this type this summer, but hasn't announced where they'll be placed. Presumably, it will be along the 3 or 4 miles of Manhattan where drivers aren't forced to a crawl by utter gridlock. I suppose it should be in sections where pedestrians are prevalent.

The New York Times quotes Mayor Bloomberg as defending the action: "Unless you make it graphic, people don’t get the message."

It would be interesting to see some research after these signs have been up for a while to see if the mayor's strategy is on point. I know a skeleton sign would definitely catch my attention—at least until it just became another everyday part of the background. So I could see these signs having at least a small statistical impact on speeding in the city.

Mayor Bloomberg announced the initiative along with a few other traffic safety moves in conjunction with NYC Transportation chief Janette Sadik-Kahn and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The UN is sponsoring a multinational campaign on road safety. The "Decade of Action for Road Safety" runs between 2011 and 2020.

New York City made the perfect launch pad not only because it's the headquarters of the UN, but also because it has made great strides toward improving road safety, enjoying the lowest street fatalities in recorded history over the past four years.


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