Gov. Susana Martinez is encouraging New Mexico’s teenagers to prevent fatal motor vehicle accidents by not texting and driving.
Martinez’s announcement comes during “National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 21 percent of teenagers in fatal crashes were killed because of drivers distracted by cell phone use.
“I’m challenging New Mexico’s teenagers to take the lead in setting an example for our fellow drivers not only here in New Mexico, but across the country, by pledging not to text while driving. There’s no text message or phone call that’s worth a young person’s life,” Martinez said.
In 2012, 26 New Mexico teenagers 15 to 19 years of age died in motor vehicle crashes. In 2011, the latest year available for traffic crashes from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, New Mexico drivers in the 15-19 age group had the highest motor vehicle crash rate at 114 drivers per 1,000 NM licensed drivers aged 15-19.
“Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death for teen drivers,” said New Mexico Secretary of Transportation Tom Church. “We hope this is a wake-up call to New Mexico’s teenagers to pull over or wait till arrival at their destination to pick up the phone.”
For the past three years, the New Mexico Department of Transportation has developed a number of distracted driving spots to increase awareness about the dangers of texting and talking while driving. It is also planning another spot for 2014.
Martinez recommends several ways for New Mexico’s teenagers to get involved in reducing motor vehicle crashes due to distracted driving.
“Take the pledge to be a safe distraction-free driver by visiting www.distraction.gov/content/get-involved/teens.html, or share a “Faces of Distracted Driving” video on Facebook or Twitter to let your friends know about the consequences of cell phone use while driving. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to speak up as a passenger to call out your friends if you see them using a cell phone while driving,” Martinez said.