Federal data shows New Mexico has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the U.S.
According to a report issued in May by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New Mexico had 74 pedestrian fatalities in 2014, or a rate of 3.55 per 100,000 residents. The average U.S. rate was 1.53 per 100,000 that same year, The Albuquerque Journal reported.
The next highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in 2014 was 2.96 per 100,000 in Florida.
Data shows that alcohol contributed to the high rate, with 57 percent of the fatal pedestrian crashes involving alcohol in New Mexico.
Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier said pedestrian impairment is a key factor in the crashes.
“The majority of our pedestrian fatalities are a result of intoxicated pedestrians walking outside of safety areas, and not the result of drivers being at fault,” he said.
Tixier said Albuquerque’s homeless population is “perpetually intoxicated and aren’t looking out for cars in the middle of the night,” which can lead to fatalities. More than three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas, and 72 percent occurred in darkness.
Jaywalking also contributed to the high numbers, with only about one in five pedestrians of the pedestrians killed struck at intersections. Most were killed crossing streets away from intersections.
New Mexico Department of Transportation data shows pedestrian deaths dropped to only 48 in 2015.
“Ensuring that our pedestrians are safe is a priority for our department,” DOT spokesman Matt Kennicott said in a written statement. “In 2015, we saw a reduction in pedestrian fatalities, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
DOT includes safety features into its roadway designs, such as sidewalks, lighting and pedestrian refuge islands. The agency also sponsors an advertising campaign to encourage pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to remain aware of their surroundings when driving.
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