Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
For the fifth year in a row, New Mexico has topped the list of the deadliest states for pedestrians as Albuquerque officials unveil a plan to tackle the issue.
A recent Governors Highway Safety Association report ranked New Mexico as having the highest pedestrian fatalities per capita in 2019 and, preliminarily, over the first half of 2020. In 2019, the rate was 4 per 100,000 people and 2.12 per 100,000 people in the first six months of 2020.
“This report is what we’ve known in Albuquerque for a long time, it is one of the reasons that we have started the Vision Zero task force,” said Johnny Chandler, spokesman for the Albuquerque Department of Municipal Development.
New Mexico has been on the top of the GHSA list every year since 2016.
In 2019, 42 people died in 394 pedestrian crashes, and in 2020 the numbers dropped to 30 and 264, respectively. In 2018, there were 382 pedestrian crashes and 35 deaths.
Data from Albuquerque police shows traffic crashes in general dropped significantly, from 4,616 in 2019 to 3,588 in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut businesses, prompted stay-at-home orders and left many working from home.
Meanwhile, the city this month unveiled its action plan for Vision Zero, a concerted effort nationwide to “create safer streets for all.” Mayor Tim Keller signed onto the initiative in 2019.
“Far too often we see tragic crashes on our roadways,” Keller said in a statement released with the 52-page plan. “We are putting this plan forward to make sure that at the City we are doing all that we can to prevent these incidences from happening – looking at everything from speed management to how we design our roads.”
The plan says more than half of those struck by vehicles are white, 31% are Hispanic and just under a third are Native American. Just under three-fourths of those struck are men.
The report also says that although nine out of 10 pedestrians survive a crash at 20 mph, only one out of 10 survive at 40 mph. The report found that the top contributing factors in pedestrian crashes “by dangerousness” were pedestrian error (81%), failure to yield (62%) and alcohol or drug involved (48%).
Although sparse on specifics projects and details, the plan says Vision Zero will identify a permanent funding source, eliminate gaps in cyclist and pedestrian networks, reduce speeds and implement traffic safety projects – particularly in high-crash areas and vulnerable communities – and update local and state policy to reflect Vision Zero goals.