May 25, 2024


Automotive to Us

NM’s 10 deadliest roads; more about driving in bike lane

THE MOST DANGEROUS ROADS IN NM: The list comes from moneygeek, which mined federal highway and traffic safety data on 1,060 fatal crashes and their causes in New Mexico from 2017 to 2019.

No. 10: N.M. 45 (Coors Boulevard) from Kirsten Road to Huseman Place SW with five deaths in five crashes.

No. 9: Central Avenue from First Street SW to Volcano Road NW with five deaths in five crashes.

No. 8: U.S. 62 from Red Cloud Road to E-38 in Lea County with six deaths in five crashes.

No. 7: Gibson Boulevard from Valencia Drive to Broadstone Way SE with six deaths in six crashes.

No. 6: I-25 between Exits 232 and 226A (the Big I and Paseo del Norte) with six deaths in six crashes.

No. 5: I-40 from Exit 140 (Rio Puerco) to Lost Horizon Drive with seven deaths in six crashes.

No. 4: NM 118 (the auxiliary road for I-40 in Gallup/Church Rock) from Navajo Boulevard to Rehoboth Drive with eight deaths in seven crashes.

No. 3: N.M. 45 (Coors Boulevard) between Redlands Road NW and Central Avenue SW with nine deaths in nine crashes.

No. 2: I-40 between Exits 154 and 158 (Unser Boulevard and Sixth Street) with 10 deaths in nine crashes.

No. 1: Central Avenue from San Mateo Boulevard to Dorado Place SE with 15 deaths in 15 crashes.

Other findings include October had the most fatal crashes with 112; distracted driving contributed to 382, or 36%, of the deadly wrecks; speeding was a factor in 370, or 35%, of the fatal crashes; drunk driving was involved in 296, or 28%, of the deadly wrecks; Bernalillo County had the most fatal crashes; and I-40 had the most crashes.

READERS WEIGH IN ON BIKE-LANE DRIVING: Last week the Albuquerque Police Department advised drivers to stay out of the bike lane when turning right.

Numerous readers took exception and sent copies of city ordinance 8-3-3-12, which says, in part, drivers “prior to turning right, shall merge, if practicable, into the bicycle lane … before the start of the turning movement.”

Eric says APD’s advice to not merge amounts to “making a right turn from a left vehicle lane.” JimB expounds on that concern, emailing “drivers attempting to right turn from the adjacent through lane put bicyclists at danger of right-hook crashes.” Bill Wingate adds APD’s interpretation presents a risk of turning “across a bicycle’s travel path.” And Ward shares that California takes it a step further, advising drivers to “drive into the bike lane no more than 200 feet before the turn.”

APD’s Rebecca Atkins profusely apologized for any confusion her response in the March 21 column may have caused. She spoke again with the Motors Unit and explains that while the city ordinance and our readers’ interpretation is clear, what is not intended is for drivers to use the bike lane as a traffic lane to coast up to intersections – much like the California model cautions against with the 200-foot limit.

AND IF DRIVERS OR CYCLISTS CAUSE CRASHES: Meanwhile, readers split on whether inattentive drivers or riders present the risk.

Virginia Sullivan speaks from experience when she writes “sadly, few drivers check to make sure the bike lane is clear before initiating a right turn. The bicyclist will be run over and possibly killed when the car turns right directly in front of him. … My husband was run over on his bicycle in exactly this way. He was seriously injured, suffering a concussion – thank goodness for his helmet or his skull would have been crushed – and requiring the reconstruction of his right chest with four titanium ‘ribs.’ Yielding to bikes and then merging as far to the right as possible before turning protects bicyclists. More widespread use of turn signals would also help. We see drivers turning incorrectly across bike lanes every time we are out and wonder why the correct way of turning is not more widely disseminated.”

However, Laura counters with “drivers are often more than aware of a bike lane because the bicyclists do not observe stop signs or traffic lights in a majority of cases. When I drive in Albuquerque, the blatant disregard for ‘rules of the road’ by bicyclists is overwhelming. There is virtually no kind of enforcement related to bicyclists – and they know it.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; [email protected]; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.