New York's speed limits are laid out in the Vehicle and Traffic
code, section 1180. New York has a basic speed law, which makes it
illegal for drivers to drive faster than is "reasonable and prudent"
based on current driving conditions. Other than that, the state sets a
maximum speed limit of 55 miles per hour, except for some sections of
certain highways where the speed limit is 65 miles per hour. New York
speed limits can be set lower than the 55 mph maximum based on
engineering and traffic studies and local conditions. Speed limits are
usually determined by a traffic and engineering study to measure the
speed that people naturally drive the stretch of road in question. The
speed limit is then set to be close to the 85th percentile, the speed
that 85% of drivers feel comfortable driving at. New York speed limits
can be reduced even further than recommended by traffic studies near
special hazards such as construction work and schools.
Whether you are part of that 85% of people who are comfortable going
the speed limit or not, you must obey the posted speed limit or you
risk getting a ticket. If special hazards such as rain, snow, ice or
heavy traffic exist, you should slow down even more. The posted speed
limit is a maximum speed limit for ideal conditions only. If road
hazards are present and you don't slow down, you could get a New York
speeding ticket for going too fast for conditions, even if you are
traveling at or below the posted speed limit.