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New Mexico's fatal car crashes: Are the rates getting any better?

Each year around June, New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) releases traffic statistics for the previous year. Officials, in turn, use the new numbers to help them better determine where they could stand to still make some improvements. If we compare 2016 to the statistics from the two prior years, then it appears that very little progress is being made when it comes to fatal car crash numbers.

During the 2016 calendar year, the NMDOT reported 402 traffic-related fatalities, a significant increase from the 298 that occurred in 2015 and just slightly more than the 386 that happened in 2014. For the three years in question, fatalities were less frequent during January and February at 67 and 71 respectively. In contrast, the two most active months were July and October, with 107 and 106 crashes each.

As for all fatal accidents in 2016, 113 people died in car crashes. Fatal accidents involving pickup trucks, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and vans accounted for 49 deaths.

Motorcycle deaths accounted for one less than the SUV ones. The busiest month for deadly motorcycle accidents is April. It sees an average of 10 deaths each year.

Of the different fatal car crashes in 2016, alcohol played a role in at least 175 of them. This statistic was up five from 2014 and an increase of 55 over that same number in 2015. As a whole, 44 percent of all accidents that could be attributed to alcohol resulted in fatalities.

NMDOT also reported that fatal car crashes are most apt to happen in rural areas as opposed to urban ones. In 2016, there were 224 fatal accidents that occurred in rural areas compared to 178 in urban ones.

Among the different counties statewide, at least a quarter, or 100, of all accidents occurred in Bernalillo. They saw 36 less than that in 2015. The county with the second highest rate of traffic-related fatalities was San Juan county at 30. Only four New Mexico counties, including Union, Harding, Catron and Los Alamos, had less than two fatal crashes in 2015 or 2016.

Injuries or deaths resulting from car accidents can be costly to deal with. An Los Lunas car accident attorney can advise you as to how you may be able to recover damages in your case.

Source: KOB TV, "At a glance: Fatal crashes in New Mexico," David Lynch, June 12, 2017

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