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New Mexico Road Safety (Stats, Facts, and Tips)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated nearly 43,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2021, the highest number of deaths since 2005. Each number represents a life lost and a family left grieving a loved one.

Traffic safety affects everyone, and governments continue to focus on decreasing deaths and serious injuries across the country. As we examine traffic data, we’re better able to understand why fatality rates are so high and how we can improve safety. Here are some New Mexico road safety stats, facts, and tips to help keep you and your family safe.

New Mexico Road Safety Stats

Traffic statistics vary widely by state and region. Nationwide, the 42,915 traffic fatalities in 2021 represented a 10.5% increase from the year before—the highest percentage increase in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. 

How does that data compare to statistics from New Mexico? The following data comes from the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT).

Fatalities and Serious Injuries

Data from 2021 is still incomplete, but we can see which direction traffic accidents are trending by reviewing the previous few years. 

Fatal Crashes by Year

  • 2016: 361 (0.80% of all crashes that year)
  • 2017: 341 (0.74%)
  • 2018: 351 (0.75%)
  • 2019: 369 (0.77%)
  • 2020: 365 (1.00%)

Injury Crashes by Year

  • 2016: 13,849 (30.7%)
  • 2017: 13,460 (29.3%)
  • 2018: 13,597 (29.1%)
  • 2019: 14,192 (29.5%)
  • 2020: 10,910 (29.8%)

Although the number of fatalities and injury crashes decreased in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the percentage of fatal crashes rose. As more people return to the roads and drive more miles, keeping the fatal crash count low will be difficult. 

2020 Statistics

  • 18% of accidents were hit-and-run crashes 
  • 36% of total fatalities and 6% of total crashes involved alcohol
  • 37% of pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol
  • 14% of unbelted passengers in crashes died, compared with only 0.1% of belted occupants
  • The average day in New Mexico involved 100 crashes, 42 injuries, and one fatality

Top Contributing Factors in Crashes

  • None/no driver error: 31%
  • Inattention: 19%
  • Failure to yield right of way: 6%

Top Contributing Factors in Fatalities

  • Drug-induced impairment: 12%
  • Alcohol-induced impairment: 12%
  • Excessive speed: 11%

New Mexico Road Safety Facts

Aerial view of trucks driving on a New Mexico highway

As mentioned above, inattention was the highest faultable factor in New Mexico crashes. Statistics from the NHTSA support this: studies have shown that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. 

It’s not possible to drive safely unless you remain focused on the road. In 2020, 3,142 U.S. drivers died in accidents involving distracted drivers. Avoid talking, texting, eating, drinking, changing the stereo, or focusing too much on the navigation system. 

Room for Improvement

New Mexico traffic fatality rates have been higher than the national average from 2016-2020. In 2020, New Mexico had 1.54 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The national average was 1.23. 

What are the areas for improvement?

  • Hit and runs were at the second-highest recorded rate in the past five years.
  • The rate of alcohol-involved teen drivers in crashes increased steadily from 2018-2020, reaching the highest rate in the past decade. 
  • Pedestrian fatalities declined slightly from 2019 but remain high. 

Despite the vast need for further improvement, some areas showed promising results in 2020.

  • The rate of crashes involving motorcycle drivers reached its lowest point since 2017, as did the crash rate of teens and young adults.
  • 37% of pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol, a category that usually hovers around 50%. 
  • Improvements in crash reporting have allowed more in-depth examination of problem areas.

New Mexico Road Safety Tips

A smiling family driving their car

While there are situations where a crash is not your fault, there are still things you can do that will protect you and your family. New Mexico drivers must also learn to drive in extreme heat during the summer months and light snow during the winter. Here are some driving tips for improving New Mexico Road Safety.

Bring Sunglasses

In the summer and winter, drivers passing through New Mexico may be susceptible to sun glare. Extreme sunlight can obscure your vision and decrease your ability to avoid hazards, so drivers should always keep polarized sunglasses on hand. 

Check Your Tires

Always examine your car before taking a long trip and maintain it regularly. Keeping your vehicle in good condition can reduce the risk of breaking down and being stranded far from help. 

The tires are especially critical. The NHTSA recommends that drivers do the following to ensure their tires don’t fail.

  • Replace tires with uneven wear or insufficient tread.
  • Replace tires every six years, regardless of their condition. 
  • Regularly inflate your tires. Even without a puncture, tires lose air over time and can become underinflated. This applies to the spare tire as well. 

Bring an Emergency Kit

When unexpected problems arise, having an emergency kit on hand is essential. Whether you buy one from the store or make one yourself, your kit should include the following.

  • Water, Gatorade, or another hydrating fluid
  • Non-perishable snacks like peanut butter or granola bars 
  • Bandages, alcohol wipes, and gauze
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Road flares
  • Blankets

Double-check your emergency kit before you leave on a long trip, and add anything else you might need. Don’t be afraid to go overboard; it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared. 

Snow Driving

Winters in New Mexico typically hover around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the southern part of the state rarely gets snowfall. However, drivers should still prepare for any possible road conditions. 

To avoid losing control, you should always slow down and increase your following distance when driving in snow. The cooler weather may also cause tire pressure to drop, so checking your tires becomes even more critical. 

During the winter, parents often dress their children in thick coats. However, this can become a hazard for children who require car seats. To avoid interfering with the seat harness, buckle your child in before covering them with any coats or blankets to keep them warm. Safety should always be the priority. 

Improve Road Safety with Interwest Safety Supply

A car driving into the sunset

At Interwest Safety Supply, we know how important it is to stay safe on the roads. We have improved traffic conditions for over 40 years by supplying the government and highway construction industry with 3M-certified traffic safety signs and equipment. Let us help you improve New Mexico road safety today!

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