New Mexico teens may know rules of the road better than adults

Jose Hurtado, Senior Instructor, teaching students at Duke City Driver’s Education School near Wyoming and Paseo
Jose Hurtado, Senior Instructor, teaching students at Duke City Driver Education School near Wyoming and Paseo

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lots of people complain there are too many bad drivers on the road, and teens get the worst rap for it. But as KRQE News 13 discovered on Special Assignment, teens may know the rules of the road better than most adults.

Whether it’s blowing through red lights, ignoring road signs, or simply not knowing what to do, bad drivers are everywhere. And it may make you wonder, how well do New Mexicans actually know the rules of the road?

“It’s like anything you do, you become complacent, all of a sudden the standards start going down and down,” said Jose Hurtado, Senior Instructor at Duke City Driver’s Education School near Wyoming and Paseo.

His job is to teach the state’s newest and youngest drivers the ins-and-outs of driving before they’re handed a state issued drivers license.

It’s a big responsibility.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, new teen drivers ages 16-17 are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.

“It’s like I tell my kids ‘A good day of driving: no accidents, no tickets.’” It’s a goal that starts in driver’s education, and teens are paying attention.

KRQE News 13 found out from the state those who do pass the written driving test on the first attempt, broken down by age.

Over the last two years, 15 year olds had a 78.5 percent passing rate in New Mexico, a number that decreases as drivers get older. People ages 20 to 30 passed the Motor Vehicle Division’s written test just 60 percent of the time.

“When teens are first getting into driver’s education they’re excited, they want their driver’s license, they’re engaged in the process,” said Michael Sandoval, Director of the Modal Division for New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Test Your Knowledge:
Take a practice test for the New Mexico Driving Exam »
Take the Driver Safety Quiz »

The state’s DOT believes New Mexico’s three-stage process for new drivers, the Graduated Driver Licensing program, or GDL, produces more skilled drivers.

Minors must complete driver’s education, pass a written test, do 50 hours of supervised driving, plus 10 hours at night, and then, pass the road test. That gets teens a provisional license for a year before they can get a full-fledged driver’s license.

“I feel like I’m learning a lot of information really quick, it’s pretty fun,” said 16-year-old driver’s education student, Olivia Stewart. She can’t wait to get behind the wheel. “Now that I’m getting more involved with school, I feel like it’s a lot more important that I can get myself places,” Stewart added.

Like her peers, she’s got a long road ahead.

Hurtado said some teens come to class with misconceptions about the rules. In at least one case, he said a student thought driving 10 mph above the posted speed limit was a legal grace period.

Hurtado adds adults should be setting a better example on the road for younger generations. Even though stats show they know the rules, car crashes are still the leading cause of death for teens, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Knowing the rules is different than following them.

“Young people sometimes are a little more risky, they engage in more risky behavior,” explained Ben Cloutier, Communications Director for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department.

When asked if she’ll feel confident behind the wheel, 16-year-old Stewart responded, “Definitely after practice, I’m gonna know exactly what to do.”

Hurtado hopes what he teaches in class will stick with students for the long haul. At the end of the day, he said he wants his students to be safe drivers and come home alive each day they’re on the road.

In the first nine months of 2017, there were 272 fatal crashes in New Mexico.

Related

NCL Exam Results by Age Between 5/25/2015 and 9/30/2017

AGE PASSED FAILED % PASSED
TOTAL  67,770  34,736 66.10%
15  3,510  963 78.50%
16  9,959  3,328 75.00%
17  12,107  4,270 73.90%
18  7,497  3,391 68.90%
19  5,108  3,171 61.70%
20  3,999  2,772 59.10%
21  2,765  1,939 58.80%
22  1,925  1,265 60.30%
23  1,640  1,029 61.40%
24  1,351  876 60.70%
25  1,250  815 60.50%
26  1,121  748 60.00%
27  1,087  746 59.30%
28  941  606 60.80%
29  789  519 60.30%
30  739  503 59.50%
31  693  452 60.50%
32  690  359 65.80%
33  688  372 64.90%
34  581  345 62.70%
35  558  368 60.30%
36  567  294 65.90%
37  543  299 64.50%
38  494  303 62.00%
39  478  289 62.30%
40  460  300 60.50%
41  404  237 63.00%
42  374  241 60.80%
43  351  243 59.10%
44  367  213 63.30%
45  309  211 59.40%
46  305  203 60.00%
47  352  183 65.80%
48  275  173 61.40%
49  289  185 61.00%
50  292  154 65.50%
51  259  195 57.00%
52  265  221 54.50%
53  249  183 57.60%
54  224  191 54.00%
55  221  148 59.90%
56  189  155 54.90%
57  206  142 59.20%
58  177  136 56.50%
59  134  106 55.80%
60  134  143 48.40%
61  129  101 56.10%
62  106  72 59.60%
63  93  92 50.30%
64  84  53 61.30%
65  70  63 52.60%
66  61  51 54.50%
67  52  47 52.50%
68  42  49 46.20%
69  44  50 46.80%
70  42  36 53.80%
71  29  28 50.90%
72  17  15 53.10%
73  21  20 51.20%
74  13  19 40.60%
75  9  11 45.00%
76  12  11 52.20%
77  10  9 52.60%
78  8  10 44.40%
79  5  7 41.70%
80  7  7 50.00%

KRQE.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s