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Personal Injury LawyerAlbuquerque and Santa Fe, NM

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NM Tops the List for Percentage of Fatal Car Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving

A driver holds a cell phone with his left hand and the steering wheel with his right, indicating he is distracted and texting while driving.

Drivers in New Mexico reminded to stay focused on the road

There's no doubt that distracted driving is a major problem in the U.S., and that includes New Mexico. According to Trusted Choice, there are more than 45,000 car accidents every year in the state, and most involve distracted driving. From cell phones to passenger conversations, it's easy for drivers to take their eyes off the road. But, unfortunately, an accident can still occur even if they look away for just a split second.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road. Distracted driving is not and cannot be safe driving. According to Forbes Advisor, nine people lose their lives daily due to distracted driving. Although phone use is mainly associated with distracted driving violations, many other things can distract a driver. Driver distractions are split into three types:

  • Visual distractions cause drivers to take their eyes off the road (looking down at a phone or checking out a billboard).
  • Manual distractions cause drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel (Eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio).
  • Cognitive distractions cause drivers to take their minds off driving (Daydreaming or talking to passengers).

Every single type of distraction is dangerous and can lead to a serious or fatal accident. Texting and driving is among the most problematic because it involves all three types of distractions. Studies also show that texting while driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Distracted driving in New Mexico: Stats, laws, & fines

Although distracted driving is a national issue, data shows that New Mexico is a hot spot for the problem. New Mexico was No. 1 on a list of all states ranked by percentage of fatal crashes due to distracted driving. In 2020, the state saw a total of 139 fatal distracted driving accidents (that year, distracted drivers were involved in 38% of all deadly traffic accidents in New Mexico).

New Mexico is one of the states with lenient distracted driving laws. Although texting and driving is prohibited statewide, no law bans holding a cell phone while driving. The latter is commonly known as a hands-free law. However, some cities in the state have implemented local laws prohibiting holding a cell phone while driving, including:

  • Albuquerque
  • Espanola
  • Gallup
  • Las Cruces
  • Silver City
  • Santa Fe
  • Taos

If you get caught violating the distracted driving laws in New Mexico, be prepared to face consequences. For a first offense, you will likely be fined $25, while subsequent offenses may result in a steeper penalty of $50. If you are driving a commercial vehicle and receive a citation for distracted driving, you could potentially lose your privilege to operate such vehicles.

Seek justice after a distracted driving accident

The aftermath of a distracted driving accident can be overwhelming, with victims facing a wide range of obstacles, such as recovering from severe injuries and dealing with medical bills, lost wages, and more. However, you don't have to go through this difficult time alone. With the right legal representation, you can hold the distracted driver accountable while pursuing the compensation you deserve for your losses.

At Szantho Law Firm, our legal team has years of experience investigating and handling distracted driving accidents in New Mexico. We prioritize your best interests while fighting to secure the compensation you're entitled to under New Mexico law. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and learn more about what an experienced New Mexico car accident lawyer can do for you. Our offices are located in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM.

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