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2015 Worst Year for Pedestrian Fatalities in Decades – But Not in New Mexico

Albuquerque Injury Attorney Andras Szantho Comments on Pedestrian Safety

While the full numbers aren't yet in, estimates indicate that pedestrian deaths surged by about 10 percent nationwide last year. However, New Mexico bucked that trend and saw a significant decrease.

Albuquerque attorney Andras Szantho said pedestrian accidents often result in serious or fatal injuries.

"We handle serious injury and fatality personal injury cases at Szantho Law Firm," Szantho said. "Some of the most serious cases often involve pedestrians. They lack any type of crash protection. Even when a vehicle is traveling at a low speed, the person on foot who gets struck can end up hospitalized and struggling physically, emotionally and financially for a long time. Brain injuries or spinal cord injuries are not uncommon. The fact that New Mexico pedestrian accident fatalities are down compared to many other parts of the country is certainly good news for our community, but even one death per year is one too many."

A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association noted that in the first six months of 2015, pedestrian fatalities increased by six percent over the same period in 2014. Noting that fatalities for the first half of the year are usually underreported and that fatalities usually increase in the second half, researchers arrived at the 10 percent estimate.

In addition to the overall increase in fatalities, the demographics have shifted, according to reports. Children and elderly pedestrians have historically been most vulnerable to being killed by motorists, but those deaths are slowly dropping; meanwhile, fatalities for people between 20 and 69 are increasing.

Multiple factors have been cited as contributing to this increase, including lower gas prices leading to more cars on the road and increased awareness of the health benefits of walking leading to more pedestrians as well.

According to the preliminary data, New Mexico actually saw a significant decrease in fatalities from 2014 to 2015. However, New Mexico also had the nation's highest rate of pedestrian fatalities per capita in 2014 - even with the decrease, New Mexico still ranked eighth in fatalities per capita in 2015.

Even with conditions seeming to somewhat improve in New Mexico, the nationwide trend remains concerning, Szantho said.

"We've seen a lot of pedestrian injuries and fatalities involving cell phones, both texting while driving and texting while walking," Szantho said. "It only takes a second for a distracted driver to cause a tragedy."

Szantho reminded motorists and pedestrians to be conscious of safety, especially after dark.

"Statistically, most pedestrian fatalities happen at night because of low visibility and alcohol use. I urge people to put their phones away, pay attention and stay safe on the road."

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