Attitude and Awareness Survey on Highway Safety Issues

A traffic safety attitude and awareness survey was sponsored by and developed in collaboration with officials from the New Mexico Office of Safety Programs, New Mexico Department of Transportation. The paper/pencil survey included 30 questions prepared in both English and Spanish and was approved by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. All NORC field interviewers in Albuquerque were given a brief training session on the study's objective and how to administer the survey. The New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT) officials provided the field interviewers access to the 12 Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) offices that were chosen for the survey.

Those 12 offices were selected by New Mexico DOT officials based upon the frequency of transactions at each office and the geographic location in order to obtain a fairly representative sample of New Mexico drivers. In January of 2017 the field interviews administered the approved survey. NORC field interviewers collected 1039 surveys from customers across the 12 MVD offices. The number of surveys completed at each MVD office by New Mexico drivers reflected the proportion of the New Mexico population represented by that MVD office. In other words, the three MVD office in Albuquerque covered about 55% of New Mexico's population, so our target was to administer and collect 550 surveys from those three offices. Some selected results include: What do you think the chances are of getting a ticket if you drive over the speed limit? 73% of the respondents thought the risk of getting a speeding ticket is 1 out of 2 times that they speed.

How often do you talk on your cell phone while you are driving? The responses were: Every trip: 2%; Most of trips: 4%; Half of trips: 9%; Less than half of my trips: 33%; Never: 48%. Considering national observational surveys indicating high percentages of cell phone use, these responses are encouraging. Responses to most questions in the survey were similar to responses in national surveys. Self-reported seat belt use was high (91%) and the perceived risk of being ticketed if not wearing a seat belt was high. This is favorable for New Mexico traffic law enforcement.

Only 6% of New Mexico drivers reported driving when they thought they were over the legal alcohol limit in the past 30 days. Most drivers thought the chances of being stopped by police if a driver was alcohol-impaired was 50% compared to national estimates of 10%. Almost 50% reported going through a sobriety checkpoint, which is much higher than national surveys. The public information slogan to reduce impaired driving in New Mexico (ENDWI) was recognized by 61% of the drivers. Only about half of motorcycle riders (53%) wear helmets every time they ride. Also, very few bicyclists always wear a bicycle helmet when riding (23%).