How Can $350,000 Help Make New Mexico’s Roads Safer?

money-imageThe New Mexico DOT had a bit of a windfall recently, in the form of some grants from the Federal Government. Some $350,000 will be sent to the department to use for their efforts preventing drunk driving and improving safety on the state’s roads.

New Mexico has had struggles with drunk driving for many years. The state had a shockingly high DWI death rate until 2005, when it passed the nation’s first all-offender ignition interlock law. Under the law, everyone convicted of drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08 must install an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer. The device prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Though the interlock law has helped bring down alcohol-related road fatalities by an impressive 40 percent, New Mexico still ranks fifth among the states in that category, and first for alcohol-related deaths overall. So extra funds are always welcome as they seek ways to improve their record.

New-MexicoWhat will they spend the money on?

  • Sobriety checkpoints. New Mexico is one of a number of states which allow police to conduct sobriety checkpoints under specified conditions. The grant money can help fund the man-hours needed to station officers at checkpoint locations.
  • Seat belt safety education and enforcement. Seat belts are widely used but, unfortunately, not universal. A great many injuries occur in crashes because occupants are not buckled up. The grants will fund campaigns like Click It Or Ticket and also help police enforce the law with added man-hours.
  • Ignition interlock programs. The success of New Mexico’s ignition interlock program has been hailed by MADD and others. Additional funds can help the state more efficiently administer and enforce the program.

Money isn’t the answer to everything, but it can be a great help in supplying manpower for New Mexico’s much-needed road safety efforts. Our thanks to the State Traffic Safety Information Systems Grants program for giving a deserving state a shot in the arm.