It’s no secret that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. Nationwide, motorcycle riders are 4 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be injured in an accident. But according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, New Mexico ranks among the states with the highest fatality rate per capita. In 2021, 51 motorcyclists died in New Mexico, which averages out to eight deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles. Those numbers make us question why riding poses such a danger in our state, and if there are certain places that riders should avoid in order to stay safe.
We’ll take a look at where these accidents happen, and how a motorcycle accident attorney can help if you’re one of the unlucky riders.
Most Common Places for Motorcycle Accidents in New Mexico
As you can see in this map, motorcycle accidents happen most frequently in urban areas. Albuquerque is currently ranked the second most dangerous city in the nation for motorcycle riders and has been on the top 10 list for most motorcycle deaths per capita for a decade.
Santa Fe and Las Cruces are also hot spots.
New Mexico’s Department of Transportation releases a Traffic Crash Report each year that includes motorcycle fatality data from various counties. As you can see, Bernalillo is always on top.
It might seem surprising that not a lot of motorcycle accidents happen along highways. In fact, more than 90 percent of them occur on non-interstate roads. About 30 percent of motorcycle accidents happen at busy intersections.
In general, the most dangerous intersections for crashes in New Mexico are well known.
Albuquerque police say these are the worst intersections for red-light collisions:
- Menaul Blvd/Frontage Road North and South
- Second Street/Frontage West and East
- Coors/Montano Road N.W.
- Osuna/San Mateo at Frontage Roads North and South
- Avenida Cesar Chavez/I-25
- San Mateo/Montgomery N.E.
- All intersection Frontage Roads under I-25
- Lead Ave./Oak and Locust S.E.
- Coal Ave./Oak and Locust S.E.
- Martin Luther King Jr./Oak and Locust S.E.
In Santa Fe from 2019-2021, police officers attributed distracted driving to 5,532 intersection collisions. Six of those intersections are along Cerrillos Road, and three are along St. Francis Drive. It pays for motorcyclists to be extra careful in those areas.
Motorcycle riders in Chaparral who are heading into Texas should be extra careful too. Accidents at the intersection of US-54 and State Line are frequent and often severe. Traffic headed north or south on US-54 typically moves at 70mph, while traffic crossing 54 on State Line is coming off a dead stop. Especially when driving at that speed, it would be easy for a motorist to miscalculate how slow a motorcycle is driving.
What Kind of Accidents Happen on Motorcycles?
Data from the state’s Traffic Crash Report lists Several Top Contributing Factors of motorcycle accidents in New Mexico, including:
- Driver inattention
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Excessive speed
- Following too closely
- Going too fast for weather conditions
- Disregarding traffic signals
- Improper turn or lane change
In 23% of motorcycle accidents that caused injuries, there was a classification of “No Driver Errors”. This means the driver of another vehicle or another factor outside of the motorcyclist’s control caused the incident.
Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents at Intersections
While motorcyclists are sometimes at fault for intersection accidents, other drivers often fail to check their blind spots or are distracted. Accidents happen when:
- Both drivers attempt to make a left turn at the intersection and collide.
- A motorist starts to turn left without noticing the motorcyclist coming toward them in the intersection.
- Either the motorist or motorcyclist runs a red light
Other Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents
Collisions that don’t happen at intersections are often very dangerous since vehicles are driving at a faster speed.
- Lane Splitting. While it’s illegal in New Mexico, some motorcyclists decide to drive between lanes on highways. This can be dangerous because it puts the bike too close to other vehicles.
- Lane Switching. Some drivers switch lanes without checking their mirrors or blind spots. Motorcycles are small and hard to see, so they run into motorcycles while changing lanes.
- Sudden Stops. When a car or truck stops suddenly in front of a motorcycle, severe or fatal injuries can occur since motorcyclists don’t wear seat belts and can be thrown from their bikes.
- Dangerous Road Conditions. Potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement can be detrimental to a motorcycle. So can lack of guardrails, poor lighting, and broken traffic signals. These elements are the responsibility of government road departments, and a motorcycle accident attorney will see that they are held responsible for any injury to the driver.
Who is At Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident in New Mexico, the first thing you should do after addressing your injuries is contact a motorcycle accident attorney. With so many variables that go into determining fault, it’s crucial to work with someone who has a legal understanding of a variety of accident scenarios.
In our experience, an error by the motorcycle driver causes the accident about 32 percent of the time. The other vehicle is at fault around 65 percent of the time. Pedestrians, animals, roadway defects, vehicle failure, and unknown causes add up to the total. We will investigate your accident and determine if the other driver, a government department, or another party was liable.
If you have not been in a motorcycle accident in New Mexico yet, consider yourself lucky and continue to drive safely. If you have, contact Kane Personal Injury to discuss your case.