DA Candidate Aborn: Traffic Deaths Not Just “Accidents”

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.

aborn.jpgRichard Aborn. Photo: Brad Aaron

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."

  • Peter Flint

    I met Richard Aborn when he was pressing the flesh at the farmer’s market a couple Saturdays ago. I was very favorably impressed by him. I brought up the issue of pedestrian/bicycle fatalities and he seemed well informed and sympathetic to the issues.

    Haven’t decided for sure who I’m voting for yet, but he’s a contender for sure.

  • J

    This sounds excellent. It’s really great to hear someone finally compare traffic deaths to homicides. It’s not an accident when you drive 45 mph down a busy street and kill someone.

  • JK

    I am voting for Aborn and I donated money to his campaign. I don’t know of any candidate, ever, in NYC having such a highly developed position on traffic justice. I’d also note that he is endorsed by people and groups across the political spectrum from Bill Bratton,LAPD chief, to many of the leftier NYC pols. He seems like the real deal and worth supporting. If his strong position on car crimes leads the other candidates to strengthen their own positions, so much the better. (He can also encourage some of his elected supporters to back more sensible laws and speed and red light cameras.)

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Great pitch JK, I’m opening my checkbook too, this is just what I was waiting for.

  • Doug

    This may be the best thing I’ve seen on this blog since, uh, the bike access bill. This is very heartening.

  • Eileen

    Thanks, JK. I’ve been sitting here in DC wishing I could vote for him, then d’oh saw your suggestion. He has my contribution now.

  • City primaries *really* matter this year amidst this groundswell of bicycling ridership, advocacy, and city leadership in NYC. Grow beyond locavore action, get into locavote action!

  • Glenn

    Thanks JK. Aborn it is.

  • I hope streetsblog and its readers continue to discuss the DA candidates; I want to hear more opinions of people like you lot.

    This effort by Aborn may very well be the thing that gets me to choose him as the candidate I support (and I tend to support pretty heartily), but I have not truly chosen a candidate yet. I hope streetsblog stays on this subject.

  • Dave

    Our local MPO, the Houston-Galveston Area Council, is pretty thorough at insisting agencies call them “crashes” and not “accidents.” As they put it, it’s not just an accident; there is a reason it happened, generally someone doing something they shouldn’t have.

  • Martin Solvaski

    Very nice post. i really like this one. Please share more updates if you have any. I find some good and necessary information for which i was looking for.

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