Seatbelt Usage in New Mexico
New Mexico has had a seatbelt law in place since January 1, 1986. At that time, it became a primary enforcement state. Under this law, a person can be stopped for not wearing a seatbelt even if they are not violating any other traffic laws.
The seatbelt law applies to anyone who is 18 years old and up in any seat. If they receive a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt, they may have to pay a fine of $25 for a first-time offense. The state also has a law for child safety seats. Any child younger than one-year-old must be kept in a rear-facing child restraint seat. A child between the age of one year and four years must be in a front-facing safety seat, and those ages five and six must be in a booster seat. Violating this law also results in a $25 fine for a first offense.
NM has had a higher rate of seatbelt wearers than many other states. In 2012, it’s usage rate was 91 percent compared to 86 percent for the national average. The state has hovered around the 91 percent mark for several years. In 2007, it was 91.5 percent, and in 2014, it was 92.1 percent.
The state is part of the West region, which has the highest rate throughout the country for seatbelt use at 95.0 percent. It is well ahead of second place South region, at 89.2 percent. However, New Mexico still has a higher than average traffic fatality rate at 14.3 percent. This compares to the national average of 10.9 percent. Studies show that seatbelt usage reduces the number of fatalities and serious injuries. As the rate of seatbelt users go up, the number of deaths in crashes will go down.