While pedestrians are only involved in around 2% of traffic crashes in New Mexico, they make up 20% of all crash-related fatalities. Researchers from The University of New Mexico Geospatial and Population Studies (UNM-GPS) hope to raise awareness around the issue with two brand new dashboards for examining data about crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists.

The new dashboard includes New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) data on motor-vehicle crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists in New Mexico that occurred between 2018 and 2022. Users can explore crash data involving pedestrians and bicyclists through a variety of categories including day of week, time, injury severity, demographics, drug or alcohol involvement all while using an interactive map to show you areas of crash concentrations. 

Pedestrian Dashboard:

Explore both the pedestrian and cyclist dashboards on the UNM-GPS website.

Researchers hope the interactive presentation of the data will empower people to make informed decisions about walking and biking along roadways, like selecting the safest routes for biking to work or walking to school. People can also use the dashboard to identify areas or conditions (i.e. weather, lighting) in which they may want to be more cautious when driving. But the dashboards are not only for public awareness, government agencies and other stakeholders use this information to make data-driven decisions to target their remediation efforts.

Statistics revealed by the data include:

  • Pedestrians are involved in only about 2% of all crashes, but pedestrians represent 20% of all fatalities.

  • Although only 22% of pedestrian crashes occurred in dark, not lighted, conditions, these crashes resulted in 46% of pedestrian fatalities.

  • 15% of all pedestrians in crashes were under the influence of alcohol.

  • Cyclist fatalities have declined four years in a row, however, the number of cyclists in crashes has increased by 10% since 2021.

As a frequent pedestrian and cyclist, David Jacobs, senior program manager with the UNM-GPS Traffic Research Unit, wanted to create the dashboard to demystify otherwise complex data and help raise public awareness around the issue.

”Unfortunately, deadly traffic crashes are on the rise in New Mexico and it is our goal to find new and innovative ways to prevent fatalities due to a traffic crash. These dashboards will allow users to explore the locations they frequent so that they can better understand how to avoid being in a pedestrian or bicycle traffic crash,” Jacobs said. “I believe that pedestrian and bicycle traffic crashes are mostly avoidable and hope that our traffic crash data dashboards prevent other New Mexicans from being involved in one.”

Before the dashboard, the information was publicly available in an annual report more than 120 pages long. A simplified look will help make the information more accessible to the public and state officials alike.

The project was created in partnership with NMDOT, which will use the dashboard as a statistical analysis tool to help inform decisions about where additional patrols and traffic stops may be useful.

“NMDOT is committed to improving traffic safety for all road users in New Mexico,” Roberta Vasquez, traffic records manager for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, said. “We are proud to partner with UNM-GPS on this important project. This dashboard is a valuable tool that will help us to identify areas where we can focus our efforts to reduce pedestrian and cyclist crashes. We encourage everyone to take some time to explore the dashboard and learn more about how to stay safe on the roads.”

The dashboard utilizes Microsoft’s Power BI to help create an interactive visualization of the data. UNM-GPS expects to launch a similar dashboard for information about drug and alcohol-involved accidents later this year.  The dashboard project is supported by Principal Investigator Jacqueline Miller, Lead Developer Jessica Dudek, Graduate Student Gowri Uppu, and Senior Program Manager David Jacobs.

About UNM Geospatial and Population Studies:
Geospatial and Population Studies is a research center at The University of New Mexico dedicated to the study of statewide traffic and demographic information. UNM-GPS works frequently in partnership with government organizations and has a wealth of experience in helping public officials make data-driven decisions through geospatial data analysis. Geospatial and Population Studies supplies trustworthy information that serves communities and government agencies, offers cutting-edge technology and research methods, and provides a fertile training ground at UNM for a new generation of applied researchers and decision-makers.