September 27, 2021
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The New Mexico Department of Transportation recently adopted a five-year pedestrian safety plan that focuses on reducing pedestrian fatalities statewide, making infrastructure improvements, launching informational pedestrian safety campaigns, plus change key policies and procedures.

[Above photo by the New Mexico DOT]

The agency said plan – formally known as the “New Mexico Pedestrian Safety Action Plan” – seeks to reverse a climb in the number of pedestrian fatalities statewide. New Mexico suffered 83 pedestrian fatalities in 2019, the highest per-capita pedestrian fatality rate in the country, with another 95 pedestrians suffering serious injuries that same year.

Photo by the New Mexico DOT

“We must take action and the department is committed to making pedestrians safer in New Mexico,” explained Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval in a statement. “Comprehensive pedestrian safety isn’t just a governor’s priority, it isn’t just a NMDOT priority – it’s a country, state, county and city priority.”

He noted that New Mexico DOT’s pedestrian safety project team developed its new five-year plan following two years of research and outreach, which included gathering internal, public, and external stakeholder input, as well as cataloging and adopting national best practices.

New Mexico DOT’s efforts reflect a larger push among state departments of transportation nationwide to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

For example, while a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed pedestrian fatalities trended up in the first half of 2020, that same report also noted how several state-directed efforts are successfully improving pedestrian safety.

GHSA’s annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report found that the U.S. pedestrian fatality rate increased 20 percent in the first six months of 2020 as speeding, distracted, and impaired driving – as well as other dangerous driving behaviors – increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet that report also found that pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2020 declined in 20 states and Washington D.C. compared with the same period in 2019. Meanwhile nine states – Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina – witnessed double-digit percentage and numeric declines in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019.

editor@aashto.org

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