With tourists, elderly drivers, and some of the nation's most dangerous highways, driving in New Mexico can be a frustrating task some days. However, New Mexicans should stop and think before they let road rage take the wheel. Not only can road rage be extremely dangerous in terms of increased car accidents, but it can incite violence in some instances. According to recent news articles, cops have seen more and more road rage instances in the state lead to violent outcomes, such as homicide. Road rage can also lead to criminal and civil charges.
In this article, we'll discuss the consequences of road rage in New Mexico. If you need to schedule a consultation with our personal injury lawyers due to a road rage-induced accident, call or text 505-386-2807 or fill out our convenient online form here.
Increased Car Accidents As a Result of Road Rage
When road rage takes the wheel, accidents increase. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA), 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. Road rage has been a contributing factor in about 300 deaths since 2013 (2021 NHTSA data). According to the Insurance Institute, aggressive driving contributed to 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007.
When Road Rage Leads to Homicide
Unfortunately and shockingly, the above car accident data may be considered mild in comparison to other consequences brought on by angry driving. In the worst cases, rage leads people to kill other drivers and passengers. Data revealed by AutoVantage Club states that 37% of aggressive driving incidents involved a firearm.
Safe Motorist reports that a total of 12,610 injuries and 218 murders have been attributed to road rage over a 7-year period across the nation. In 2021, the local news reported that authorities had seen an increase in violent road rage incidents. The report listed the following incidents that occurred in Albuquerque alone last year:
- Jan. 14, 2021, at 5106 Central Avenue southeast
- June 6, 2021, at 421Broadway Avenue southwest
- July 1, 2021, at 4701 Paseo Del Norte NE
- Oct. 6, 2021, at 2026 Central Avenue SW
- Oct. 16, 2021, at the intersection of Montgomery Boulevard and Morris Street
New Mexico Laws Regarding Road Rage
Road ragers in New Mexico may be charged with reckless driving. The law describes reckless driving in the following ways:
- "carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others"
- "without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger a person or property."
Essentially, the law states that drivers who operate their vehicles in such a way that puts people and property at risk may be convicted of reckless driving. NM Stat § 66-8-113.
The law reads as follows:
66-8-113. Reckless driving.
- Any person who drives any vehicle carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others and without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property is guilty of reckless driving.
- Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be punished, notwithstanding the provisions of Section 31-18-13 NMSA 1978, upon a first conviction by imprisonment for not less than five days nor more than ninety days, or by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100), or both and on a second or subsequent conviction by imprisonment for not less than ten days nor more than six months, or by a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.
- Upon conviction of violation of this section, the director may suspend the license or permit to drive and any nonresident operating privilege for not to exceed ninety days.
Additionally, the statute recognizes careless driving. While this charge is less severe than reckless driving, it may still come with a criminal charge and significant penalties. NM Stat § 66-8-114.
How to Dial Down Anger Behind the Wheel
Road rage isn't worth it. No matter what annoying thing happens on the road, it won't matter tomorrow, unless you suffer the many consequences of road rage. The best way to avoid criminal charges, violent interactions, and serious car accidents is to stay cool behind the wheel. Here are some tips on keeping a cool head while you're driving:
- Don't take interactions on the road too personally; the bad driver probably doesn't even know you
- Be aware that road rage could escalate a situation with a stranger potentially resulting in an assault, injuries, or even death
- Just let it go – this moment won't matter in five years unless you are convicted of a road rage-associated charge or severely harmed as a result of a road rage-induced accident or assault.
- Avoid using your horn as much as possible; if you need to use your horn, try short honks rather than long honks or series of honks
- If the situation is really dangerous, call the authorities. The police want to know if a driver is driving dangerously and recklessly
- If you feel threatened by another driver, get to the nearest police station and notify the police; ensure that your doors are locked, and pay attention to your surroundings. Don't let yourself get blocked in by another vehicle.
- Be kind on the road – don't use gestures or obscenities
Hurt in a Road Rage Incident?
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a road rage-induced accident, call or text our car accident lawyers in New Mexico at 505-386-2807. You may alternatively fill out this online form, and we will reach out to you to set up your free initial consultation. If you've been hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation. To find out more about your specific case, contact our car accident lawyers today.
Note that this information is intended for general information purposes, NOT to substitute actual legal advice from a lawyer. We recommend that you contact our personal injury lawyers for more information.