In the State of New York the highest posted speed limit is 65 mph (105 km/h), found only on limited-access freeways (including some state highways, most of the New York State Thruway and select Interstate Highways). The default speed limit, posted as the “State Speed Limit”, is 55 mph (89 km/h), which is in effect unless otherwise posted or in the absence of speed limit signs.
The New York State Department of Transportation usually sets speed limits in the state. Counties and most towns must petition DOT to change a speed limit. State law allows villages, cities, towns with more than 50,000 residents, and certain towns defined by law to be “suburban” to set speed limits on state, county, and local roads within their borders.
There is no state law regarding minimum speed limits, but minimum speed limit of 40 mph (64 km/h) has been set on the entire length of Interstate 787 and the entire length of Interstate 495 (the Long Island Expressway). The New York State Thruway does not have a firm minimum speed, but there are signs advising drivers to use their flashers when traveling at speeds below 40 mph (64 km/h).
While New York does not have truck speed restrictions, the New England Thruway (Interstate 95) features “State Speed Limit 55” (89 km/h) signs right next to “Truck Speed Limit 50” (80 km/h) signs.
New York law allows area speed limits. An area speed limit applies to all highways within a specified area, except those specifically excluded. The area may be an entire municipality, or only a specific neighborhood. The defined area may also be the grounds of a school, hospital, or other institution. Area speed limits are signed at their perimeters with signs reading “Area Speed Limit” and the speed limit value shown below. “Area” may be replaced with a term that more precisely defines the area boundaries, such as “Town”, “City”, “Park”, “Village” or “Campus”.
Normally, the end of a lowered speed limit is marked with a sign reading “State Speed Limit 55” (89 km/h), indicating that the statewide speed limit applies. In areas where a curve or other road condition makes the state speed limit inadvisable, a sign reading “End XX m.p.h. Limit” may be used, with XX replaced with the speed limit value. A “State Speed Limit 55” (89 km/h) sign should be installed after a curve. This sign is sometimes misused in locations where the speed limit changes to a speed other than 55 mph (89 km/h). This is mainly applied on both undivided and divided rural non-freeway routes. Though rarely seen, some divided roadways are set as low as 45 mph (72 km/h) but mainly stay at the state speed limit of 55 mph (89 km/h).
The top speed limit in most residential/urban and business district areas is at 30 mph (48 km/h), and state law prohibits speed limits below 25 mph (40 km/h) on most common residential areas, though a speed limit of 25 mph (40 km/h) is mainly only used in the New York City area and rarely seen outside this area.
However, School speed limits may be set as high as 30 mph (48 km/h) to as low as 15 mph (24 km/h). New York City has established a number of 20 mph (32 km/h) “Neighborhood Slow Zones” in residential neighborhoods. In residential neighborhood areas outside of New York City the speed limits range between 30–40 mph (48-64 km/h) and 35–45 mph (56-72 km/h) on suburban/urban arterial routes.
New York’s Criminal Procedure Law prevents law enforcement personnel from issuing a ticket for any offense that they did not witness personally, meaning that, among other ramifications, the state’s electronic toll collection system can not be used for speed enforcement.