Objective: New Mexico has had the highest motor vehicle fatality rate in the nation for many years. Our objective was to examine ethnic differences and trends in motor vehicle fatality rates.
Design: Using death certificate data from the New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, we compiled age-adjusted motor vehicle-related mortality rates from 1958-1990 among the three major ethnic groups in New Mexico--Hispanics, white non-Hispanics and American Indians.
Results: Over the 33-year study period, American Indians of both sexes had two to three times higher mortality rates than white non-Hispanics. Hispanic males also had higher motor vehicle death rates than white non-Hispanic males. During the 1970s fatality rates peaked, with age-adjusted death rates of 233/100,000 for American Indian males, 74.7 for Hispanic males and 49.3 for white non-Hispanics for the period 1973-1977. Evaluation of successive 5-year birth cohorts showed highest mortality rates for ages 15-29 years for each ethnic group and both sexes, and a dramatic decline in most ethnic, sex and age-specific rates during the last eight years of the study period.
Conclusion: Although the recent trends indicate favorable changes in motor vehicle fatality rates, our data highlight the need for ethnic and age-specific interventions to further reduce rates of motor vehicle-related mortality in this state.