Candidate for Manhattan district attorney Richard Aborn has a piece on The Huffington Post today comparing New York homicides with traffic fatalities, and pledging to give traffic crime the attention it deserves.
While "effective policing and prosecution" have lowered the homicide rate to around 500 per year, Aborn says, the city’s 300 annual road deaths indicate that traffic enforcement has not kept up with other efforts to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
There is no reason why the traffic fatality rate should be so high. These are not just "accidents" — they are preventable deaths. And if we focused similar attention on these deaths as we do on homicides, we could prevent many of them.
When I was the president of Jim and Sarah Brady’s Handgun Control, Inc, we decided to take on the problem of shooting "accidents" in the home. There was an epidemic of children finding a parent’s gun and accidentally shooting it. Through a combination of education focusing on the idea that these "accidents" could be prevented and advocacy, we passed child accident prevention laws in many states that made gun owners liable for accidents that should have been prevented.
The city’s District Attorneys’ offices need to send a message that they will be very serious in investigating traffic fatalities. If a fatality can be prosecuted as criminally negligent homicide, it will be. To that end, I will have specialized Assistant District Attorneys with the training necessary to prosecute these crimes effectively.
Aborn goes on to say that prosecuting killer drivers after the fact isn’t good enough — effective enforcement must include punishment for dangerous behavior before it results in injury or death. It’s impossible to know how such promises would hold up against the day-to-day reality of a police department satisfied with the status quo, but it’s refreshing language to hear from someone who could be Manhattan’s next top prosecutor.
"As District Attorney," Aborn concludes, "I commit to dedicating appropriate resources to ensure that traffic fatalities become as rare as bike lanes used to be."