Santa Fe is the fourth biggest city in New Mexico, tucked into the Southern Rocky Mountains. It's the oldest and highest capital city in the United States, founded in the early 1600's at an elevation of over 7,000 feet. It's many cultural offerings attract over a million visitors each year. Santa Fe doesn't have the gridlock of major cities, but rapid changes in weather and a mountainous location can make driving treacherous. Santa Fe may look bucolic, but locals and visitors would be wise to be aware of the many traffic hazards in Santa Fe, NM.
Dangerous Roads in Santa Fe, NM
Interstate 25 passes begins near the Mexican border and passes through Santa Fe, heading towards Colorado and echoes the 300 year old trade route known as the “El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. At first glance, this highway looks no different than many others in the United States, but those long stretches between the mountains are more hazardous than they appear. During the last two years, there have been more than fifty fatalities on this road, most of them caused by heavy traffic, speeding and driving while distracted. Another particularly dangerous road is U.S. Route 285 that passes through Santa Fe, and has many stunning scenic views. What is being called “the black gold rush,” due to the large amount of money being generated from fracking operations, is flooding this road with 18-wheelers and other big rigs used for transporting natural gas, oil and water for fracking operations. This scenic highway was never designed to support this much commercial traffic, making it particularly hazardous.
Weather Related Traffic Hazards in Santa Fe, NM
Tornados can come out of nowhere in Santa Fe, making driving treacherous, some have enough force to lift a vehicle off the road. Play it safe and stay off the roads of Santa Fe if a tornado is forecast, especially when a severe thunderstorm is underway. Some of Santa Fe's tornadoes are weak and short-lived, but these “dust devils” and “landsprouts” can form very quickly, posing a hazard to drivers. Santa Fe will usually have a few hail storms each year, and golf ball size hail balls, strong enough to break a windshield. Fog presents a significant danger in Santa Fe, as it does in most mountainous regions. Zero visibility fog on winding roads can be a recipe for disaster.
Traffic Accidents Caused by Human Error
Despite strong laws and active enforcement, one of the most dangerous hazards on Santa Fe roads are drivers. Driving under the influence, driver inattention, driven sleepiness and reckless driving cause the lion's share of serious accidents on Santa Fe roads. One of the leading causes of accidents in Santa Fe is distracted driving, especially the use of a mobile phone to text, check social media or perform other phone related functions. Being patient and pulling over to check messages can save many lives. Being sober, rested and attentive is even more important on twisting, foggy mountain roads than it would be in less difficult road conditions. That's also why it's important to use defensive driving techniques that can help you avoid accidents caused by the negligence and recklessness of other people on the road.
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