News and Announcements
Safer Celebrates 29th Anniversary
We are proud to announce that June 6, 2014 marks Safer New Mexico Now's 29th anniversary! We would like to thank and recognize the Safer New Mexico Now Board of Directors, team, partners, and families who have helped us along this meaningful journey. To honor how far we have come, we take a look back at how the organization got its start and the people who made it possible.
Safer New Mexico Now (Safer) was founded in June of 1985, with the goal of reducing the number of deaths and injuries on New Mexico's highways, which held the highest fatality rates in the Nation at the time. To accomplish that goal, a mandatory seat belt law was passed in March, 1985 and became effective in January 1, 1986. Support from the bill came from a variety of groups including state agencies, medical groups, insurance companies, private organizations (car dealers, Association of Commerce and Industry), Highway Users Federation, Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, military, and police organizations. The bill's primary lobbyists were H.J. "Doc" Weiler and Ray Berube, who became Safer's first President and Vice President respectively.
Officers and Executive Committee members of Safer New Mexico Now represented a broad coalition of groups in the State including:
H.J. "Doc" Weiler, President
Raymond Berube, Vice President
Edward Bernstein, M.D., Secretary
John Fenner, Treasurer
Chief Maurice Payne
Chief Calvin Shields
Judge William Connor
At the time of Safer's inception, New Mexico's seat belt use rate was approximately 27%. Through combined diligent efforts with
law enforcement, marketing campaigns, media, and education, that number rose exponentially, and by 1997, the State boasted an 88% seat belt use rate, the highest in the Nation.
Since 2007, that number has consistently maintained a 91% average. The fatality rates in New Mexico saw a 19% decrease by 1987 and has continued to diminish through the years. In 2005, the alcohol-involved crash rate dropped to 39.75% (from 57.77 in 1993), and by 2012, DWI related deaths constituted 27% of all total traffic fatalities.
So how did they do it? Here is a look at some early education and promotional material that got the ball rolling: