New Mexico is one of the more dangerous states in which to drive, ranking 22nd of the most unsafe states to drive. But that doesn’t mean that we drive poorly. 75% of all vehicle accidents occur on rural roads, and New Mexico, with a population of just 2 million, has a large percentage of rural roads. Rural roads pose a greater danger for drivers. It is tempting to speed on those roads less travelled, while drivers in rural areas are also less inclined to use a seat belt.
The overwhelming majority of traffic accidents are caused by failure on the part of the driver, whether it be distracted driving, driving under the influence, or just plain not following the rules of the road.
However, approximately 6% (NHTSA) of accidents are caused by mechanical failure, environment or unknown causes. You can reduce your chances of getting involved in a car accident not only by being a good driver, but also by making sure your car is properly maintained. The following, listed in order, are the common mechanical failures leading to car accidents. This will inspire you to “run” to your auto repair shop.
Tire failure causes roughly 35% (NHTSA) of the crashes where vehicle failure was involved. A blowout involves a sudden loss of air pressure in a tire which then pulls the vehicle sharply in one direction, resulting in loss of control. A worn tire can cause a blowout, so can a puncture. However, worn tires pose an additional risk, since they lose their grip, making it harder to stop or otherwise control the car, especially when it is raining. If your tires have low tread, don’t delay in replacing them with new tires.
Keeping your tires properly inflated, rotated and aligned will lengthen the lifespan of your tires, but there’s no way around it when it is time to replace those treads. Your vehicle manual will guide you in the proper maintenance of your tires.
Brake failure makes up around 22% (NHSTA) of all accidents involving mechanical failure. No explanation is needed regarding the danger bad brakes pose. That goes for bikes, planes, trains and go-carts. If you can’t stop your vehicle, you can’t stop hitting what’s in front of you.
Brake problems by and large result from a lapse in maintenance. If you are hearing a metallic scraping when you apply the brakes, it is definitely past time to visit the shop. Worn pads and discs will reduce stopping power. However, a leaky brake line or an ABS malfunction can also put you at risk. Regular trips to the auto shop and brake inspection will easily let you know if your brake pads are getting thin. Once your pads have passed 30,000 miles, it’s time to start saving up for new brakes.
A steering failure is somewhat rare, but statistically is the third major cause of accidents (3%) due to mechanical failure. Anything that compromises the ability to steer, whether that be suspension problems, an engine fault, or a broken joint is regarded as a steering failure.
If you keep the vehicle in good repair, it’s not likely that a failure of this sort will put you and your loved ones in harm’s way. It’s a good idea to ask for a full vehicle inspection at least once a year using electronic diagnostic tools to check for any hidden faults your on-board computer has found.
Wipers and Lights
Wipers provide visibility when it is raining, snowing, hailing, or even when mud from the road flies up. Ever had a juicy batch of bugs hit the window while driving, limiting visibility? Or ever tried to drive in a heavy rainstorm without windshield wipers? Replacing blades is part of basic vehicle maintenance and should be done as they start to degrade to prevent an accident. A lack of good blades on your vehicle could demonstrate that you did not maintain your vehicle properly if an accident and resulting insurance claim occurs.
The same idea applies to the lights on your vehicle. If you have a broken light, you may not be visible to other drivers, putting you and the other driver at risk. You may minimize the importance of replacing a tail light or even a fog light. Don’t! And if you don’t get them replaced and get in an accident it can jeopardize your chances for compensation.
402 people lost their lives in New Mexico, 2016. But overall, New Mexico can tout a decline in traffic fatalities of 28% since 1975. Way to go, New Mexico! The overall decrease in the death rate is attributed to higher awareness of the danger of drinking and driving, as well as high compliance with seat belt laws. Assuring your vehicle is in good working order and that you abide the rules of the road will keep you from becoming one of these statistics!