Editorial: Better habits can help prevent traffic deaths - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Better habits can help prevent traffic deaths

It’s a belated New Year’s resolution that will save lives — yours and others: Be smart and be safe when you move from Point A to Point B.

That means drive (and walk) sober. Buckle your seat belt. Wear a helmet if on a motorcycle. Look both ways before you drive across an intersection/walk across the street.

Because, while some will summarily dismiss the above advice as some old scold wagging their finger while telling you to eat your vegetables, far too many of the 467 traffic fatalities recorded in New Mexico last year were entirely preventable. Data from the New Mexico Transportation Department’s Traffic Safety Bureau and the University of New Mexico reveal:

• Alcohol was a factor in 106 of the deaths — roughly 23% — including 20 pedestrian and eight motorcycle fatalities.

• Of those killed in vehicles, 188 were not wearing seat belts — just over 40%.

• Thirty-four of the motorcyclists were not wearing helmets.

• Ninety-three pedestrians were killed on N.M. roads.

While not every crash is survivable, regardless of the precautions, each of these deadly statistics could be reduced by simple steps: Call a relative, friend or rideshare, or simply stay put if you’ve had more than a drink or two; buckle up and require your passengers to as well before you put your vehicle in gear; wear a helmet when on a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or bicycle; and be aware of your surroundings and oncoming traffic before driving/walking.

It isn’t just yourself you’re protecting. It’s others who are sharing the road — someone’s child, parent, friend, spouse. The transportation department stats paint a grim picture of far too many lives lost — lives that could have been saved.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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