Should New Mexico's Speed Limits Be Lowered?

It's no surprise that speed is a common factor in many New Mexico car accidents. (Our lawyers often see "excessive speed" listed as a primary cause or contributing factor on our clients' police reports.) And with higher speeds come more severe injuries, but the question some might ask is whether or not New Mexico's posted speed limits are causing more accidents?

Currently, New Mexico's 75 mph speed limits on certain freeways and interstates makes us one of only sixteen states that allows drivers to travel at this rate of speed. However, in cities like Albuquerque and Las Cruces, 65 mph remains the posted speed because of their dense population and urban layout.

Because New Mexico's legislators take into account an area's population density to determine speed limits, it's a bit more difficult to determine whether or not high speed limits translate into more crashes. The reason for this is because if we look at the number of crashes in an area of the state that posts 75 mph limits, it's likely there will be fewer crashes than on the high traffic interstates with lower speed limits due to the simple fact that there are fewer vehicles on the 75 mph roads. However, does this tell the whole story?

Most of us would assume that higher speed limits would translate into chaos on the highways and interstates, because a majority of people would travel even faster than the posted maximums. In contrast, it's often assumed that lower speed limits would mean safer conditions because velocity is not as big of a concern. However, studies show that if speed limits are raised, it doesn't necessarily mean that there will be more crashes. The reason? Drivers are not likely to exceed their own personal comfort level with regard to how fast they drive, no matter what speed limit is posted.

As mentioned earlier, there's no debating the number of interstate deaths and severe injury increase with increased speed limits, and there are a number of studies that confirm this. For example, in a report published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one statistic points to the fact that when Congress established a nationwide maximum speed limit, deaths attributed to automobile accidents dropped by 16%. (Traffic fatalities totaled 54,052 in 1973 and 45,196 in 1974.) And specific to New Mexico is a report that saw fatal crashes increase throughout the state when in 1987 we became the first state to revert back to a 65 mph speed limit on rural highways.

New Mexico Speed Limits

The posted speed limits in New Mexico vary depending on the type of road and population of the area in which you're traveling. The Governor's Highway Safety Association has listed the following speed limits for New Mexico:

Rural Interstates

  • Cars - 75 mph
  • Trucks - 75 mph

Urban Interstates

  • Cars - 65 mph
  • Trucks - 65 mph

Other Limited Access Roads

  • Cars - 60-70 mph
  • Trucks - 60-70 mph

No matter what side of the speed limit debate you fall on, the following should be agreed upon by everyone: following the rules of the road, giving yourself plenty of space between vehicles, and not driving distracted are all critical practices to avoiding a potentially serious accident.

Been Hurt In A New Mexico Speed-Related Accident? Our Attorneys Can Help

If you were injured in an accident that was caused by excessive speed, we want to help. Our office is based in dowtown Albuquerque and our attorneys travel throughout the state to handle cases caused by speeding.

We offer everyone in the state of New Mexico our Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that you'll never be charged for a consultation and we don't receive any payment for our services until you win your case.

If you want to speak to one of our attorneys immediately, you can dial 1-800-253-5537, or if you prefer to write us, please feel out our free contact form and your potential case for review.

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