Whether visiting the oldest inhabited dwellings in North America or attending the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, there are many exciting reasons to visit New Mexico. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States and is known for embracing its unique cultural heritage. A record number of 23 million out-of-state travelers visited New Mexico just last year. Unfortunately, lurking behind the bolo ties and desert landscape are troubling statistics that tell a tale of some of the most dangerous roads in America which are notorious for causing car accidents.
Despite being sparsely populated, in 2017 New Mexico had 18.5 traffic fatalities for every 1,000 people, which placed the state in the top 5 nationally. Additionally, New Mexico ranks 5th in reckless driving, 12th for speeding and 10th for the most drunk driving arrests, all raising general concerns about the hazards of driving here. In recent years, close to half of all traffic fatalities involved alcohol. If you’re planning a trip through the Land of Enchantment, here are 5 dangerous roads in New Mexico you’ll want to avoid.
#5 U.S. Route 550: Redesign Comes Up Short
Starting just north of Albuquerque and stretching 175 miles to the Colorado border is U.S. 550, one of the most dangerous roads in New Mexico. This corridor is a frequent commuter and regional roadway that was converted from State Route 44, originally a two-lane roadway with an unsavory reputation for fatal car accidents. To improve traffic safety, Route 550 was recently upgraded to 4 lanes. However, as a cost-cutting measure the median was left as a paved 6-foot wide area with rumble strips and no barriers.
Road visibility has also been a hot topic for Highway 550, but unfortunately the designated maximum speed was changed from a promising 65 mph to 70 mph. Since then, there has been a spike in accidents not only due to the highway’s newest updates but to the lack of barriers as well, which has caused a striking number of head-on crashes. Suffering 66 fatalities over a 6-year period earns it the fifth spot on our list of the most dangerous roads in New Mexico.
#4 Interstate 10: Remote Desert Route
Passing along the southern Arizona border through Las Cruces before turning south toward El Paso is the 164 miles of Interstate 10. Despite having rather remote stretches, I-10 remains a busy national route for commerce, frequented by large trucks and semi-tractor trailers.
Dust storms are one of the biggest roadway problems in the area and periodically shut down traffic entirely on the interstate. On top of severe windstorms, those injured in an accident must often wait nearly 20 minutes on average for emergency services to arrive, which is double the national average. I-10 also sits near the top of the statewide list for traffic fatalities with 74 deaths in a 6-year period. To put it simply, if you find yourself in a dust storm, try to get off the roadway as soon as possible or slow down considerably. Don’t wait for the storm to impair your visibility!
#3 Interstate 40: Busy Commerce Corridor
Running east to west through the middle of the state and right through Albuquerque is the 373 miles of Interstate 40. As one of the busiest routes in the country, this highway sees a great deal of commercial trucks and often has heavy traffic around the clock.
One of the most dangerous sections of Interstate 40 is just northeast of downtown Albuquerque, where the highway interchanges with I-25. This bit of roadway, which is more commonly known as the “Big I,” sees nearly 300,000 vehicles each day. Unfortunately, the “Big I” is even more notorious for being prone to frequent car accidents. Speeding, congestion and distracted drivers top the list as causes of car accidents along this stretch. In one 5-year period, this highway suffered 293 traffic fatalities and is listed as one of the 50 worst highways in all of America.
#2 Interstate 25: Link to the North
Beginning just a few miles north of the Mexico border, and passing through both Albuquerque and Santa Fe on its way to Colorado, is the 462 miles of Interstate 25. This passage closely follows El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a famous trade route for almost 300 years from Mexico City to the pueblo of San Juan.
Connecting the largest city to the state capital and eventually north to Denver makes this route busy for commuters, commercial rigs, and travelers year-round. This highway has suffered over 50 traffic fatalities in one 2-year period. Aside from the “Big I,” listed above, the interchange with I-10 on this highway is yet another dangerous section where proceeding with caution is absolutely necessary. Speeding, congestion and distracted driving are listed as the major causes for accidents on Interstate 25.
#1 U.S. Route 285: Fracking Pipeline
Starting at the Texas border and stretching north 407 miles through the heart of New Mexico is U.S. Route 285. This highway offers a scenic tour through the southeastern plains of New Mexico, up through Santa Fe and on to Colorado. Route 285 is a major access route for the oil boom currently underway in southern New Mexico. The black gold rush from fracking has generated copious revenues for the state and has also unleashed a never-ending torrent of big rigs hauling oil, natural gas, sand and water. This roadway is one of the many that was never built to sustain this kind of traffic.
In the tiny city of Jal just off of Route 285, there have been reports of hundreds of trucks backed up along this roadway due to such high congestion. As U.S. Route 285 is only a two-lane road with narrow shoulders, the heavy truck traffic means that passing is all but impossible and vehicles are left with little room to maneuver against the towering sea of big rigs. The heavy load has also left the road in disrepair with large potholes being all too common. The overall effect is a harrowing one for unsuspecting drivers who cannot find an alternate route.
Montana Lawyers with The Advocates
Here at the Advocates, we hope you can avoid the most dangerous roads in New Mexico or at least proceed with caution. If you or a loved have been involved in an accident through no fault of your own, you will need the best legal representation to guide you through this difficult time. The Advocates understand just how frustrating it can be to retrieve your own medical bills while trying to negotiate with insurance companies, all while you should be focusing on your recovery.
Your car accident lawyer with The Advocates will give you the representation you need to obtain a strong recovery. Our car accident attorneys will handle claims adjusters and insurance agents and defer your hospital bills for you so you can focus on your health and your family. We will be there for you every step of the way to guarantee you get the settlement you are owed. Call The Advocates today at 406-206-0900 or use our free live chat right here on our homepage! You deserve an Advocate!