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New Mexico is ground zero for hit-and-run epidemic

There have been a lot of positive developments with respect to traffic safety over the years. With new safety features in cars and, in some areas, better enforcement of traffic laws, residents of the Albuquerque area might think that the number of traffic fatalities, including fatalities among bicyclists and pedestrians, would be trending downward.

Unfortunately, as this blog has mentioned on previous occasions, the picture of road safety in this state is not all rosy. Across the nation, when it comes to traffic-related deaths, the low-water mark was 2014, four years ago. More specifically, one contributor to this puzzling and disappointing statistic is that the number of fatal hit-and-run accidents has been on the rise and is now that highest it has been in over 40 years, that is, since federal agencies started keeping track.

In New Mexico, these types of accidents are a serious problem. As of 2016, the last year in which statistics were available, this state has the highest rate of hit-and-run fatalities in the country, at 2.4 deaths per 100,000 residents of this state. It is important to note that, in two out of three hit-and-run accidents, the victim is either a pedestrian or a bicyclist, which may explain why New Mexico's rate of fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents is also high.

Across the country, the number of deaths related hit-and-run accidents has skyrocketed over the last decade. The 2,046 pedestrians who died in 2016 was 60 percent higher than in 2009 and 35 percent higher than in 2012.

There are several possible reasons why the number of fatal hit-and-runs is increasing, and it could just be the result of urbanization. Whatever the reason, though, victims of hit-and-runs will likely need help pursuing compensation from all available sources.

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