Judged by statistics on violent crime, New York may be the safest big city in America. But its amazingly low murder rate masks a less encouraging trend: With 300 city-wide road deaths a year, reckless driving now rivals homicide as a mortal threat.
Don’t take our word for it. This is the message from Cy Vance Jr., the candidate who next Tuesday is all but certain to be elected Manhattan’s next district attorney. Speaking at today’s legal symposium on vehicular violence at the Cardozo School of Law, Vance called the number of city traffic fatalities "extremely large" when compared to its 500 annual murders, and reiterated his campaign pledge to make vehicular violence a priority on his watch.
"Safety on our streets is going to be a very, very important issue for our office," said Vance, who noted that his son is a Manhattan cyclist.
Vance restated his commitment to allotting additional resources to the Manhattan DA’s Vehicular Crimes Unit, as well as his intent to curb dangerous driving with prevention techniques currently applied to other potentially deadly behaviors. Vance also said he plans to approach traffic crime through the "community justice" model [a concept explained in this PDF], working with NYPD precincts to identify specific problem areas.
Much of today’s event — co-hosted by the Cardozo School, Transportation Alternatives and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign — was devoted to what other states are doing to hold killer drivers accountable. We’ll delve into that in a follow-up post. Vance said that he, too, plans to look nationwide to keep up with case law.
"I have a lot to learn," he said. "I will be an active student."