(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City is warning drivers that speeding could mean death.
Drivers who exceed the speed limit in two city neighborhoods will soon see the words "SLOW DOWN" and the image of a skeleton flashed on electronic signs by the side of the road. As long as a driver obeys the city's 30 mph speed limit, no skeleton will appear.
The signs have been placed along stretches of Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx and Richmond Avenue in Staten Island – roads that, respectively, were shown by a DOT study to have 96 percent and 66 percent of motorists speeding.
"We're playing with people's lives," Bloomberg said of speeding vehicles. He then cited global statistics on traffic fatalities: "About 148 people die in road traffic deaths every single hour. I think it's 1.3 million people a year. This is going to be the fifth largest killer in the world in another few years."
City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joined Bloomberg at the press conference, which took place at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan — a spot that had once been a traffic lane but is now a protected pedestrian island.
She said the department will test a new slow-speed driving zone in the Claremont section of the Bronx, which has a high concentration of schools and vehicle crashes per square mile. The largely residential neighborhood will get a 20 mile per hour speed limit this summer — the lowest in the city.
Sadik-Khan said driving only 10 miles per hour above the city's 30 miles per hour speed limit can mean the difference between life and death: "If a pedestrian is hit by a car going 40 miles per hour, there's a 70 percent chance that pedestrian is going to die," she said. "If a pedestrian is hit by a car at 30 miles per hour, there's an 80 percent chance that pedestrian will live."
Bloomberg said if the slow-speed zone and the skeleton signs prove effective, more will be set up in other neighborhoods in the city.