Fatal crashes on I-40 prompt call for safety improvements.
Fatal car accidents at I-40 work zones have New Mexico traffic and work safety advocates calling for change before a bad situation quickly gets worse.
Speeding is contributing to an average of one fatal crash per month where construction is being done on the highway. More and more drivers are ignoring posted speed limits in construction zones, according to the New Mexico State Police. This carelessness is putting the safety and lives of workers, themselves, and other drivers at risk.
New Mexico may use technology to help address the high rate of lethal crashes. The Department of Transportation is developing a proposal to install automated speed enforcement cameras where construction work is happening to monitor traffic, ticket speeders, and pressure drivers to slow down.
Not everyone likes this idea, however. Some New Mexico drivers have voiced concern about the plan. They fear the worst: getting over-fined by a device that proves to be ineffective in stopping fatal crashes. This concern is not unwarranted. Albuquerque had to shut down one of its 20 enforcement cameras last year because it wouldn't stop incorrectly ticketing drivers who did nothing wrong.
However, with its work zone proposal, the DOT is saying the cameras' potential to save lives outweighs its potential for error.
How automated traffic enforcement works
Automated speed enforcement cameras utilize advanced sensors, such as radar or LIDAR, to measure the speed of passing vehicles. When a vehicle exceeds the preset speed threshold, the camera takes a picture or video of the violating vehicle, including the license plate. This information is then processed to determine the violation details, including the date, time, and location.
Authorities use the captured data to issue fines to the registered owner of the vehicle. The citation, often accompanied by photo evidence, is typically mailed to the owner's address. This information can also be useful evidence for injured victims filing insurance claims.
In work zones, crashes are often related to speeding
Overall, New Mexico has a high fatal crash rate, but highway construction zones are particularly dangerous. In the last six months, two road construction workers have been killed in work zones.
According to research, technology can be effective in reducing speeding and overall crash risk in construction work zones.
- An Illinois study found that the percentage of speeding drivers went from 40 percent to 8 percent in work zones with cameras.
- A more recent study in Maryland saw a 90 percent drop in vehicles traveling 12 or more mph over the speed limit through work zones with auto-enforcement.
Who pays for work zone crash injuries?
Determining liability in a work zone accident can be confusing, which is why it is important to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible after a crash. Car accident lawyers conduct thorough investigations that may reveal one or multiple liable parties. In a work zone accident in New Mexico, potential liable parties may include:
- Construction companies. Potential liability for maintaining a safe work zone.
- Government oversight and road safety entities. Potentially liable for inadequate construction zone maintenance or unsafe road conditions.
- Defective parts or equipment manufacturer. Potential liability for damage due to malfunction.
- Contractors. Responsible for specific tasks within the construction zone, subject to negligence claims.
- Drivers. Accountability for actions contributing to the accident, such as speeding or failure to follow posted signs. Injured victims would work with the at-fault driver's insurance provider for a settlement.
Although it is just a proposal at this point, the New Mexico DOT's research showed automated traffic enforcement is an effective tool to reduce speeding and motor vehicle accidents at highway construction work zones. The DOT will present a proposal to the Transportation Commission for approval as early as January.
Get a car accident attorney who's prepared to fight
If you were injured or a loved one died in a New Mexico car accident, you need to have a clear understanding of your legal rights and options. At the Szantho Law Firm, we can answer your questions, explain your potential options, and handle every aspect of your claim if you choose us to represent you. Attorney Andras Szantho is known for being an aggressive advocate for injured accident victims in New Mexico. Discover what a legal warrior can do for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our law firm has offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.