Sometimes being #1 isn’t a good thing. This is the case with a new study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety, which lists New Mexico one of the top-ranked states for hit-and-run fatalities. The study defines hit-and-run as a crash where at least one individual flees the scene of an accident before providing any or sufficient information.

The findings of the study continue an upward trend across the country with a record high of 737,100 crashes and 2049 fatalities in 2016 (the most recent year of available data); these numbers are record highs since the statistics have been kept.

The states of California (337 deaths) and Florida (206) have a higher number of fatal crashes than New Mexico (31), but applying that number of fatalities per 100,000 people in each state puts New Mexico at the top alongside Florida and Louisiana (42).

This data was taken from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that was used to quantify fatal crashes and deaths.

Common characteristics of these crashes

There are many variables involved in the findings, but some common themes emerge:

  • Victims: The most common victims of these crashes are pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Setting: Places with higher likelihood of potential witnesses (heavily trafficked roads or well-lit areas) are less likely to be associated with hit-and-runs.
  • Drivers: The drivers who fled were most commonly young males with a prior history of DWI and license suspension. They often test above the legal limit of .08 percent at the time of arrest. The vehicles they drive are typically older models.

Making matters worse

Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents result in the pain, suffering and economic burden upon the victims and their families. Moreover, not staying at the scene of an accident or properly reporting the crash increases the severity of the injury, thus potentially causing a death that may have been avoided if the crash was properly reported. Since hit-and-runs are a criminal offense, these incidents also put a greater burden on law enforcement to resolve the matter.

It is important to remember that an attorney will often be necessary to help victims recover damages to pay medical bills, cover lost income and compensate for the emotional trauma of the event.