New Mexico has earned a dubious honor: it is the state with the highest number of fatal pedestrian accidents. Albuquerque Journal reported on this news, which came from a paper published by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in May of 2016. The troubling statistic underscores the need for drivers and pedestrians alike to exercise more caution and for drivers to be held accountable if their unsafe actions cause pedestrian accidents to occur.
New Mexico Has the Nation’s Highest Rate of Fatal Pedestrian Accidents
NHTSA reported there were 74 pedestrians killed in New Mexico in 2014. This is a rate of 3.55 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents. This death rate is more than double the national average rate of 1.53 pedestrians killed per 100,000 people in the population. The state of Florida, which had the second highest pedestrian death rate, had just 2.96 fatalities per 100,000 people. The death rate is substantially higher in New Mexico.
Alcohol is a big reason why there are so many pedestrians killed in New Mexico. In more than half of the crashes in which a pedestrian was killed in New Mexico, alcohol played a role in the accident. In total, 57 percent of pedestrian accidents involved intoxication on the part of the pedestrian, the driver, or both. Of the 74 pedestrian deaths in New Mexico, 42 occurred in alcohol-related crashes. The total number of alcohol-involved pedestrian accidents is also substantially higher than the nationwide average. Throughout the United States, alcohol is a factor in just over a third of fatal pedestrian accidents.
Both drivers and walkers need to make sure they are not putting themselves or others at risk due to intoxication. People know drunk driving is illegal, and may think they are doing the smart thing by walking home drunk. Unfortunately, intoxicated walkers are a danger to themselves as well. Approximately 35 percent of pedestrians who die in accidents nationwide have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Jaywalking is another big factor, as pedestrians are more likely to be killed when they cross away from an intersection.
While some pedestrians engage in this type of high risk behavior, many others do nothing wrong and lose their lives. The local Department of Transportation tries to accommodate pedestrians with sidewalks, pedestrian refuge islands, and lighting. If drivers don’t respect the rights of pedestrians, however, these safety efforts will not prevent accidents from happening.
Pedestrians need to obey the rules, stay safe, and be sure they are visible at night by wearing reflective clothing and using a flashlight. In total, 72 percent of pedestrian fatalities in New Mexico happened after dark. Drivers also need to do their part by watching out for pedestrians at all times and following road safety rules to reduce the chances of striking and killing someone.