Not everyone in New Mexico is a motorist, but everyone is a pedestrian at some point. And pedestrians are the most vulnerable party on the road. Even an accident involving the smallest sedan can have catastrophic consequences.
Unfortunately, pedestrians face a higher risk today than they have in the last three decades.
Pedestrian fatalities are at a worrisome high
Even though traffic fatalities overall have been decreasing at a steady rate, pedestrian deaths have only increased in the last 30 years. According to Reuters, pedestrian fatalities have increased by nearly 42% since 2009 alone.
Many factors play a role in this increased risk, including speeding, running red lights, and reckless driving. However, there are two other possible reasons that pedestrian deaths have increased at such a significant rate:
- Distracted driving: Even though New Mexico banned cellphone use and texting behind the wheel in 2014, the rate of distracted driving is still high, which only makes the roads more dangerous.
- Reliance on technology: Many vehicles now have automatic emergency braking systems and technology to detect pedestrians and alert drivers to act. Drivers are relying on these technologies now more than ever. Unfortunately, many of these systems often fail to detect pedestrians, according to a study conducted by AAA.
What measures can you take as a pedestrian to stay safe?
Under New Mexico law, pedestrians have the right of way at intersections and crosswalks. Unfortunately, many drivers often do not honor that right of way or do not see pedestrians at all.
So, what can you do to reduce the high risk you face as a pedestrian? There are a few steps you can take, including:
- Stay alert: Make sure you avoid distractions and are aware of your surroundings at all times. After all, texting can also be dangerous for pedestrians, not just drivers.
- Ensure you are visible: After pedestrian accidents, drivers often claim that they did not even see the pedestrian. Wearing bright colors at night, making eye contact with drivers and not rushing can all help you be visible and predictable.
- Be extra cautious at night: 75% of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. This risk increases this time of year, now that it is darker earlier.
It is also critical to be mindful of these tips and risks when you are the one behind the wheel to help keep yourself and all other pedestrians safe.