Do you know what to do if you're in an accident? Wochit

According to the data, New Mexico drivers are better than Texas drivers.


LAS CRUCES - A yearly report released recently found New Mexico ranks in the Top 10 for the worst driving in the nation.

New Mexico drivers ranked 7th worst among 50 states and the District of Columbia in the 2017 report from the website, which issues the yearly rankings.

That's up slightly from a year ago, when New Mexico ranked 6th worst, and from two years ago, when the state posted the second-worst ranking. The scoring is based off 2015 federal data in five categories of fatal crashes.

Montana had the worst ranking in the 2017 report, followed by Arizona as the second worst. Texas was No. 4. 

Iowa achieved the 51st slot in the recent report, meaning its drivers were the best in the country. 

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Several Las Cruces drivers said they see dangerous behaviors or poor driving too often.

Cesar Miss, 17, of Las Cruces said he thinks cell phone use while driving is a "major part of the problem." Eliminating distractions goes a long way toward improving safety, he said.

"Just putting your phone down — that's a major improvement," he said. "Stop (and pull over) when you have to do something else."

In New Mexico, texting or talking on the phone while driving — without a hands-free mechanism — has been illegal since 2014. Many cities in the state, including Las Cruces, also have their own ordinances against it.

Careless driving, speeding

Indeed, among the five categories feeding into the overall ranking, New Mexico's worst category was "careless driving," which looks at pedestrian and bicycle fatalities per 100,000 population. Within that subcategory, New Mexico was third worst in the country with 61 pedestrians and bicyclists having been killed in a year.

Among other subcategories, the state ranked:

  • fatality rate (per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled): 28th
  • failure to obey (percentage of fatal crashes that involved traffic signals, not wearing seat belts and driving with an invalid driver's license): 26th
  • drunken driving (percentage of fatal crashes that involved alcohol): 26th
  • speeding (percentage of driving fatalities that were speed-related): 4th

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Getting better?

New Mexico in 2013 received a middle-of-the-pack No. 29 ranking among states, which dropped to No. 2 by 2015, as careless driving, speeding and DWI worsened. 

New Mexico has now improved two years in a row. In 2017, slight positive strides were made in the subcategories of drunken driving and overall fatality rate.

Guillermo Celiz, 21, of Las Cruces said he believes the quality of driver's education courses in New Mexico could stand to be reviewed. He took a class as a sophomore in high school and found it to be "lacking."

"I feel like the drivers vary," he said after renewing his driver's license Thursday. "There are very bad drivers, and there are good drivers."

Though data for the report is from New Mexico, it doesn't distinguish whether crashes reported are from in-state or out-of-state drivers, such as those traveling two major east-west interstates in the state.

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Melissa Harvey, 18, of Las Cruces said sometimes poor road design, signage and road markings are a factor in collisions, and public entities could re-examine streets and highways for improvements. 

Harvey said she tries to stay courteous to other drivers and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists. While she can't influence other drivers, she wants to "make sure I'm doing the right thing," she said.

Diana Alba Soular may be reached at 575-541-5443 or Follow her on Twitter: @AlbaSoular

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