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Capitol Report 2/8/2022 – Bill Seeks to Make Interstate Highway Travel Safer

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A bill has been introduced to make interstate highway travel safer.

Jason Espinoza reports from the Roundhouse:

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Over the past several years the safety of New Mexico’s interstate highways has become a frequent concern for travelers. Large 18-wheeler trucks have not only often been involved in accidents, but when mixed with construction have also created long delays and added congestion.

In fact, last year leading up to Thanksgiving the mix of construction and 10-wheeler tricks, which don’t mix well with hills, led to traffic stretched 30 miles from Laguna to Route 66 Casino.

Now, Senators George Munoz, Shannon Pinot, and Benny Shendo have introduced Senate Bill 174 (Freight Trailers in Right Hand Highway Lane) to make New Mexico’s interstate travel safer.

The legislation would restrict 18-wheelers traveling on interstate highways in New Mexico, outside the boundaries of a municipality) to the right-hand lane only, except in special circumstances.

Violators of this new restriction would incur a $200 fine.

This issue is especially concerning for New Mexicans from Tucumcari to Gallup and all those travelling on Interstate 40.

According to data compiled by the NMDOT’s Traffic Safety Division, in the five-year period from 2016 to 2020, there were over 13,000 crashes involving heavy trucks and 298 heavy truck fatalities on New Mexico highways.  Over 1,700 of these crashes involve another vehicle that is travelling in the same direction

SB 174, if passed, may help promote safer driving practices along New Mexico’s 4,437 lane miles of interstate highway.

While this bill was introduced fairly late in this year’s short legislative, its sponsors believe growing interstate highway safety concerns must be addressed and are hopeful the measure will make it through the process and be signed by the Governor. 

For the New Mexico News Network, I’m Jason Espinoza

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