Former NYPD Chief: It's Time to Take On Traffic Crashes

A contender for New York's top police job says traffic fatalities can be decreased the same way homicides were.

Former Rudy Giuliani police commissioner William Bratton is credited with bringing the "broken windows" theory of policing to the city, which promoted aggressive policing of lower level crimes.

When he took office twenty years ago, there were nearly 2,000 homicides in New York City each year. Through September, the city had 242 homicides. Over that same period, traffic crashes killed 203 people. Bratton thinks the city can comparably reduce the number of traffic deaths because, he said, they're "more easily addressed than crime."

"It’s a matter of just directing resources onto this issue," he said. 

Speaking Tuesday at an NYU Rudin Center/Transportation Alternatives panel, provocatively entitled "Closing the Enforcement Gap to Save Lives on NYC Streets," Bratton said "the time for this issue has come."

He said the number of traffic crash fatalities is close to intersecting with homicide victims. "As traditional crime victims have declined," he said, "victims of traffic crime -- while also declining –- are now on par to equal almost the victims of violent crime."

His recipe for traffic death reduction: street redesign, interagency cooperation, technology, and political will. Not to mention transparency: Bratton said "there’s really no reason that TrafficStat" -- the legislation mandating a traffic safety reporting  -- "couldn’t be a meeting like this...you can open it up to the public and move it around the city."

Bratton's remarks come on the heels of several high-profile pedestrian deaths -- and a growing call for a 20 mile-per-hour speed limit in New York City's residential neighborhoods.