Traffic Tip Tuesday: Motorcycle vs vehicle crash test

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This month’s Traffic Tip Tuesday topics are dedicated to safe motorcycle riding.

To wrap up our series on motorcycle safety, I want to illustrate why I have been discussing the topics we’ve covered. I want all motorists to be as safe as they can be; motorcycle and bicycle riders are at the highest risk of being injured in a collision. I was very fortunate to attend the 2016 ARC-CSI Crash Conference in Las Vegas, NV.  During the conference, I observed crash testing and was provided data, photos and videos of the crashes performed. Several of the tests involved motorcycles.  As an avid motorcyclist and safety advocate, I was extremely interested in observing these tests.

The test we will discuss and watch video from, is a motorcycle vs passenger car. The impact is on the rear door of the passenger side of the car with the front end of the motorcycle. This test simulates an intersection crash. As there are no stop signs or traffic signals on the test track, we have to use some imagination. One of the vehicles fails to yield to the other and a crash occurs. Regardless of who commits the yield violation, we will see it would end poorly for the motorcyclist. This is a fairly low speed test, about 20 to 30 mph on the motorcycle. The car is stationary when struck. I wish there would have been a biomechanical dummy on the motorcycle, but we can imagine what would happen to the rider in this collision.

Videos provided courtesy of Collision Publishing and ARC (Accident Reconstruction Network).

Although no safety equipment can guarantee the rider’s safety, it greatly increases the survivability of the rider.  A few years ago I was involved in a collision very similar to this one. A vehicle failed to stop at a red light and I hit the driver’s side passenger door. I was thrown from my motorcycle and landed on the asphalt, striking the back of my head on the pavement. Had I not been wearing my helmet, I would have sustained a serious brain injury, if not killed. I was fortunate and walked away from the crash. The safety gear saved me from serious injury. In short, it worked.

In closing, I would encourage you, as riders and passengers, to wear safety equipment and learn advanced riding techniques.  Make the investment in yourself and your family.

Above all, ride safe and have fun!

Snowbarger, MartinMartin Snowbarger has been a law enforcement officer for 18 years. He’s worked for the Farmington Police Department for 15 years and in Raton, NM for three years. Officer Snowbarger has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2003 and has been a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Traffic Collision Reconstructionist for 11 years.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Motorcycle safety equipment

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This month’s Traffic Tip Tuesday topics are dedicated to safe motorcycle riding. Today’s topic is safety equipment.

 

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Helmet safety

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This month’s Traffic Tip Tuesday topics will be dedicated to safe motorcycle riding. Today’s topic is helmet safety.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Safe Braking

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This month’s Traffic Tip Tuesday topics will be dedicated to safe motorcycle riding. Our first post for May is a video on safe braking.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Window tinting

Today’s Traffic Tip Tuesday article will cover the statutes that govern window tinting as it applies to citizens and businesses. The Farmington Police Department is often asked, “What danger is posed by having illegal tint/sun screening material on vehicles’ windows and windshields.” The answer is simply, reduced visibility. Reduced visibility for motorists, especially at night, and reduced visibility for pedestrians. Pedestrians rely on nonverbal communication (eye contact) with drivers to ensure they are observed when crossing roadways. At the current legal tint limit of twenty percent light transmission, the motorist’s visibility is already reduced by eighty percent. The city of Farmington has a large population of foot traffic. Within the last few years, there have been several major injury and fatal traffic crashes involving vehicles hitting pedestrians on the roadways.

TINT SHOP OWNERS
One thing tint shops need to keep in mind is that many vehicle windows are coming from the manufacturers with built in tint already. When twenty percent tint is applied over these windows, the light transmission levels drop below twenty percent. Tinting shops often fail to comply with sections C and D of New Mexico State Statute 66-3-846.1 (see below). We recommend tint shop owners purchase tint meters to check tint levels prior to applying new tint. They can be purchased online from many different vendors for under $100 each.

66-3-846. Windshields must be unobstructed and equipped with wipers; windows must be transparent; exception.

A. No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sign, poster or other nontransparent material upon or in the front windshield, windows to the immediate right and left of the driver or in the rearmost window if the latter is used for driving visibility, except as provided in section 66-3-846.1 NMSA 1978. The rearmost window is not necessary for driving visibility where outside rearview mirrors are attached to the vehicle.

B. The windshield on every motor vehicle except a motorcycle shall be equipped with a device for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture from the windshield, which device shall be so constructed as to be controlled or operated by the driver of the vehicle.

C. Every windshield wiper upon a motor vehicle shall be maintained in good working order.

66-3-846.1 Sun screening material on windshields and windows; requirements; violation; penalty.

A. A person shall not operate on any street or highway a motor vehicle that is registered or required to be registered in this state if that motor vehicle has a sun screening material on the windshield or any window that does not comply with the requirements of this section.

B. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a sun screening material:

(1)   when used in conjunction with the windshield, shall be non-reflective, shall not be red, yellow or amber in color and shall be used only along the top of the windshield, not extending downward beyond the ASI line or more than five inches from the top of the windshield, whichever is closer to the top of the windshield; and

(2)   when used in conjunction with the safety glazing materials of the side wings or side windows located at the immediate right and left of the driver, the side windows behind the driver and the rearmost window shall be non-reflective, shall have a light transmission of not less than twenty percent and shall be used only on the windows of a motor vehicle equipped with one right and one left outside rearview mirror.

C. Each manufacturer shall:

(1)   certify to the division that a sun screening material used by that manufacturer is in compliance with the non-reflectivity and light transmission requirements of this section;

(2)   provide a label not to exceed one and one-half square inches in size that:

(a)   is installed permanently and legibly between the sun screening material and each glazing surface to which it is applied;

(b)   contains the manufacturer’s name, the date that the sun screening material was manufactured and the percentage of light transmission; and

(c)   is placed in the left lower corner of each glazing surface when facing the motor vehicle from the outside; and

(3)   include instructions with the sun screening material for proper installation, including the affixing of the label specified in this subsection.

D. No person shall:   

(1)   offer for sale or for use any sun screening material for motor vehicle use not in compliance with this section; or

(2)   install any sun screening material on motor vehicles intended for operation on any street or highway without permanently affixing the label specified in Subsection C of this section.

Karst, DavidSergeant Karst is a ten year veteran with the Farmington Police Department and the current Traffic Unit supervisor. Sgt. Karst previously spent three years in the Traffic Division as a DWI enforcement officer where he specialized in DWI and drug impaired driving detection and apprehension. In 2009, Sgt. Karst was awarded the MADD Everyday Heroes Award for making over 400 DWI arrests in three years. Sgt. Karst spent two years as a patrol corporal and two years as the supervisor of the Farmington Police Violent Gang Task Force where he specialized in highway narcotics interdiction. Sgt. Karst holds a masters degree in criminal justice from New Mexico State University. 

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Yard sale season brings congested neighborhoods, increased traffic crashes

It’s getting warmer outside, which means spring cleaning is in full swing. What does spring cleaning have to do with driving and traffic? Well, with spring cleaning comes the official opening of yard sale season and all of the navigation through congested neighborhoods. With this comes an increased number of traffic crashes, both injury and non injury. The vast majority of these crashes can be prevented by following a few traffic laws that are commonly violated. These laws specifically deal with parking, giving your full attention to the roadway, and following the vehicle in front of you at an adequate distance.

  • 66-7-351 and §66-7-352 of New Mexico State Statute covers some general parking instructions

You should not park in the following locations:

~On a sidewalk

~In front of a public or private driveway

~Within an intersection

~Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant

~In a crosswalk

~Within 25 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection

~Within 30 feet of a flashing beacon, stop sign or traffic-control signal

~Along or opposite any street excavation if parking would obstruct traffic

~On the roadway side of any vehicle stopped or parked at a curb or side of the street

~Upon any bridge, elevated piece of highway, or in a tunnel

Unless otherwise provided by New Mexico’s parking laws, every vehicle stopped or parked must have the right-hand wheels parallel to the curb within 18 inches

  • 66-8-114 of New Mexico State Statute covers Careless driving

A. Any person operating a vehicle on the highway shall give his full time and entire attention to the operation of the vehicle.

B. Any person who operates a vehicle in a careless, inattentive or imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, weather and road conditions and all other attendant circumstances is guilty of a misdemeanor.

What does “full time and entire attention” mean? Well, it’s just that; all of your attention must be given to operating the vehicle and paying attention to the roadway. Some common violations are: phone operation, doing your make up, eating, looking at something distracting on the road side (e.g. a yard sale), looking back to talk to rear seat passengers, reading a book or magazine, looking for something you may have lost in the car, ect. This list is comprised of real things we see which cause crashes and sometimes serious injury on a daily basis. Remember when you are driving, just drive.

  • 66-7-318 of New Mexico’s State Statute covers Following too closely.

The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

This sounds simple enough, but the truth is most of the motoring public travels much too closely to the vehicles in front of them. The simple overall rule of thumb is when a vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, you should pass that object no sooner than three seconds later. This is assuming the road condition is good and the weather is clear. This is a general rule, as you should always increase distance as speeds exceed typical city speeds.

By following the above mentioned laws, your yard sale excursion should end as safely as it started.

 

The primary role of the Farmington Police Department’s Traffic Unit is to enforcement traffic laws and investigate traffic crashes and suspected DWI related stops. FPD officers participate in a number of selective enforcement programs managed by the Traffic Division. The programs are funded by grants administered through the New Mexico Traffic Safety Bureau and Safer New Mexico Now. These programs include Operation DWI (ODWI), Community DWI (CDWI), Operation Buckle Down (OBD), Click it or Ticket, and the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP). Each are geared toward gaining voluntary compliance of the citizens with regard to violations that contribute to traffic crashes.

The Traffic Division ad­dresses community concerns using the most appropriate methods. Examples include enforcing traffic laws, utilizing speed trailers, which aid in driver education and driver awareness; and placement of traffic counters to collect data on the total number of vehicles, time of day roadways are most commonly used, and average speeds.

For information about other divisions within the Farmington Police Department, visit fpdnm.org.

Every 15 Minutes, a look at teenage drunk driving

With our youth quickly approaching the end of the school year and seniors preparing to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives, I want to take a moment to talk to them. We all know and remember prom season. Unfortunately, many of our youth will consume alcoholic beverages and mind altering substances of all kinds then get behind the wheel, endangering themselves and others.

Some will engage in this activity because of peer pressure, being afraid to abstain. I encourage parents and caregivers to have what I call a “courageous talk” with the youth in their sphere of influence. Talk frankly about the dangers of substance use and abuse. Be honest with them. Each year during this season, many youths meet an untimely death due to drunk or drugged driving.

If your child has the opportunity to take part in the Every 15 Minutes program, please allow them to do so. I have participated several times, and I assure you it is impactful. Let me share a short story about my involvement at Farmington High School a few years ago.

All the emergency services (police, fire and EMS) stage a few blocks away. An announcement plays over the intercom system at the school and the entire school body responds to the scene. They are told a crash has occurred, in this case on north Dustin Avenue, and several members of the school body have been involved. They arrive, observing crashed vehicles and bodies lying in the roadway area with varying injuries.

I was assigned the part of a responding officer, first on scene. My job was to evaluate the scene and request additional resources. The students and staff observing, experience the police, fire and EMS units arriving running code (lights and sirens) to the scene. The “victims” are their classmates, people whom they may have known all their lives.

As police arrive, we evaluate the victims, one of which will be deceased, others have injuries of varying degrees. Another will be the “drunk driver” who caused the collision. The San Juan Regional Medical Center’s helicopter lands nearby to fly out the most critically injured victim.

I was treating and evaluating a victim, who in this case was a young lady. I was wearing a microphone, which broadcast my conversation with her and event radio traffic over loudspeakers for the benefit of the student body in attendance. I will never forget this particular experience as long as I live. I was assessing a young lady’s physical condition, asking questions while observing the makeup used to simulate injuries. I ascertained her particular injury was a broken cervical spine (neck). She could talk and breath, but could not move her arms and legs, nor did she have any feeling below her neck. As I was relaying this information to responding medical units, I was looking into her eyes trying to comfort her.  Even though this was an act, she began to cry; this experience suddenly became very real to her. It was at that moment, I realized the impact this exercise was having on everyone.

As I was relinquished her care to the medics, I looked into the crowd before moving on to the next phase of the exercise. I saw many students and staff either openly weeping or choking back their emotions, both male and female.

Another Officer began to process the “drunk driver,” having him do field sobriety tests and eventually arresting him.  While all this was going on, the fire department was extricating a victim from one of the vehicles, using all the tools available to them while other victims were being transported by ambulance to the hospital. It is quite an event to observe.

I haven’t been involved in the program since, but know it’s still being utilized. Every 15 Minutes was designed to rotate through all the area high schools, choosing one per year. This is not a complete report of the program, but I hope you understand the impact it makes.

The point I’m trying to make, is driving drunk or drugged kills. I have had the responsibility to respond to many of these situations in real life. I’ve observed firsthand how driving impaired impacts families. Not just the families of the deceased but the families of the drunk driver, too. There are no winners in these situations.

Farmington Police Department has a reputation of being very aggressive with apprehension and adjudication of impaired drivers. I’ve personally arrested several hundred impaired drivers over my 19-year career. I do not regret even one arrest. Sure, I’ve felt sorry for some of them, but I felt better knowing they were off the roadways and unable to harm anyone.

Farmington Police Department has a DWI awareness campaign going on at local high schools. We are taking a car that was involved in a fatal DWI crash, towing it to and displaying it at the schools. If you see the car, take time to read the information regarding the collision.

If you find yourself in a situation where you or the person responsible for driving you home becomes impaired, please call someone for a ride. Caregivers, I beg you include in your courageous talk, the caveat that you will not be upset if your child calls for a ride in this situation. Even if they are the one who has imbibed, have the necessary discussions after everyone is sober and calm.

Everyone – Drive Safe and Sober.

Snowbarger, MartinMartin Snowbarger has been a law enforcement officer for 18 years. He’s worked for the Farmington Police Department for 15 years and in Raton, NM for three years. Officer Snowbarger has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2003 and has been a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Traffic Collision Reconstructionist for 11 years.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Crosswalk etiquette

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  While this is true, it’s also true that if one is injured, then the chances of completing the journey is probably slim to none. With March 20 marking the first day of spring, that means more foot traffic out and about, and if one wants to ensure the completion of the journey, then it’s important to know the etiquette of sharing the road with pedestrians.  In today’s traffic tip, I will be discussing what to do upon arrival at a crosswalk.

To fully understand what motorists and pedestrians are to do at a crosswalk, it is important to understand what constitutes a crosswalk. The New Mexico Criminal and Traffic Law Manual defines a crosswalk as, “(1) that part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway; and (2) any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface…”.

If we look at the definition more closely, we can see that a crosswalk must be clearly marked like the ones lining the downtown business district in the city of Farmington. These crosswalks can be either white or yellow in color and are usually recognized by the striped pattern. Crosswalks are not confined to one specific area, as they are in residential neighborhoods and in parking lots.  Other areas where crosswalks are usually found are near schools. These crosswalks typically operate during certain hours and during certain times of the year. For instance, the crosswalk on College Boulevard that is utilized by the students and parents of children attending Mesa Verde Elementary and Heights Middle School doesn’t operate during the summer months. A pedestrian tunnel and an overhead pedestrian crossing are two other types of crosswalks that are affected by criminal and traffic law, but due to the fact that neither one of these structures exist in Farmington, I will only be discussing the law as it applies to crosswalks on the road.

Now that we’ve defined what a crosswalk is, it’s time to look at specific laws covering pedestrians and motorists at crosswalks.  First, Farmington City Ordinance 25-5-1. Prohibited crossing, states:

“No pedestrian shall cross a roadway in any business district other than in a crosswalk or at an intersection.”

Second, Farmington City Ordinance 25-5-2. Crossing at right angles, states:

“No pedestrian shall, except in a marked crosswalk or at an intersection controlled by pedestrian walk/wait signals, cross a roadway other than by a route at right angles to the curb or by the shortest route to the opposite curb.”

It’s important to know that each of the two previous ordinances is specific to the city of Farmington and as such, the Farmington city code has an area designated as a business district. I can only describe the business district as the area of Main Street beginning at Airport Drive and ending at Hutton Avenue. It is in this area where the two previous ordinances would be utilized and enforced.

For areas outside of the business district, such as near Animas Valley Mall or in neighborhoods, the following statutes would apply:

New Mexico State Statute 66-7-333. Pedestrians subject to traffic regulations.

A. Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic-control signals at intersections as provided in Section 66-7-105 NMSA 1978 unless required by local ordinances to comply strictly with such signals, but at all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in Sections 66-7-333 through 66-7-340 NMSA 1978.

B. Local authorities are hereby empowered by ordinance to require that pedestrians shall strictly [strictly] comply with the directions of any official traffic-control signal and may by ordinance prohibit pedestrians from crossing any roadway in a business district or any designated highways except in a crosswalk.

New Mexico State Statute 66-7-334. Pedestrians’ right of way in crosswalks.

A. When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk.

B. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

C. Subsection A of this section shall not apply under the conditions stated in Subsection B of Section 66-7-335 NMSA 1978.

D. Whenever a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of another vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

New Mexico State Statute 66-7-335. Crossing at other than crosswalks.

A. Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

B. Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

C. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

Last, but not least, New Mexico State Statute 66-7-337. Drivers to exercise due care states:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of Sections 66-7-333 through 66-7-340 NMSA 1978 every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.”

Crosswalk etiquette is the responsibility of both the motorist and the pedestrian. The two city ordinances along with New Mexico State Statutes 66-7-334B and 66-7-335C clearly state that pedestrians must cross the street in a marked crosswalk. If a pedestrian crosses the street in accordance with the laws, ordinances and regulations, then the chances of the pedestrian being cited for a violation is slim to none. These laws protect the pedestrian so they can safely cross the street from one side to the other, as New Mexico State Statute 66-7-334A states that a vehicle must yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian as long as the pedestrian is crossing the street in a marked crosswalk and adhering to the traffic-control signal (if one is in place).

Now as a motorist, upon arriving at an intersection with a marked crosswalk, you must yield to a pedestrian if they are in the process of crossing the street in the crosswalk. A driver of a motor vehicle who does not yield to a pedestrian who has started to cross the street at a crosswalk, would be guilty of a violation if a collision were to occur. Coming to a complete stop, rather than rolling through the intersection, is the best way to avoid a collision with a pedestrian. Also, driving defensively with a mindset of, not all pedestrians will yield to your vehicle or can see your vehicle approaching the intersection, is a sound way to avoid a crash. New Mexico State Statutes 33-7-334B and 33-7-335A protect motorists in the instance that a pedestrian crosses the street outside of a crosswalk, otherwise known as jaywalking.

As you can see, there are several laws and ordinances that have been enacted to regulate the manner in which citizens are to cross the road. While there is no set rule for who yields to whom if the pedestrian and vehicle arrive at the intersection at the same time, there is one rule that always rings true, courtesy pays. The simplest way to remember crosswalk etiquette is to abide by the rule that if there is a marked crosswalk, the motorist must yield to the pedestrian. If there is no marked crosswalk, then the pedestrian must yield to the motorist. So if you want to ensure you complete your journey of a thousand miles, it’s important as a pedestrian to use the crosswalks to cross the streets and as motorists to yield to those pedestrians crossing the street in a crosswalk.

Nez, WillardOfficer Nez has been a law enforcement officer for 12 years. He’s worked for the Farmington Police Department for 10 years and for the New Mexico State University Police Department in Las Cruces, NM for two years. He has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2012. Officer Nez is a drug recognition expert and a traffic collision reconstructionist. He is also a certified Glock armorer and an AR15/M4 armorer.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Sharing the road with bicycles

This week’s topic is on bicycles. As we get closer to summer, we will see more and more people out riding bicycles on the road. The increase of bicycles on the road comes with an increase of frustration and misunderstanding between riders and drivers. I’ve heard people say that bicyclists don’t have a right to be on the road. I’ve also seen bicyclists on the road who think the rules of the road do not apply to them. I’m here to say both trains of thought are incorrect and unsafe.

The following includes a list and brief description of several laws regarding bicycles on the roadway. These include the rights and duties of someone riding a bicycle, riding on roadways and bicycle paths, emerging from an alley or driveway, riding on sidewalks, and equipment required on a bicycle. This does not include every law regarding the issue, but it’s the majority of issues law enforcement see and deal with.

Farmington City Ordinance 25-3-106. Rights and duties.

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except as provided in this division and NMSA 1978, §§ 25-1-1/66-3-701—66-3-707.

Bicycles have just as much right to be on the road as a motor vehicle. For those who ride bicycles, that means you must obey all traffic laws the same as if you were a motor vehicle. This includes traffic lights, stop signs, rules regarding right of way, etc.

Farmington City Ordinance 25-3-107. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.

A. Every person driving a bicycle upon streets shall drive in the righthand through lane of the right half of the roadway, except as follows:

  1. When making a legal left turn;
  2. When an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive the bicycle to the left of this portion; any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles and bicycles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway;
  3. When passing on the left of another vehicle or bicycle; or
  4. When obeying an official traffic control sign, signal or device.

B. Persons driving bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for exclusive use of bicycles.

For those riding a bicycle, try to stay as far to the right of your lane as is safe to do so. If you need to move over within your lane for any of the above reasons, check for motor vehicles. Do not expect them to know your intentions. You can also use hand signals to let those around you know what your intentions are. For those driving a motor vehicle, try to give the bicycle a little extra room and slow down as you pass. Again, this is about sharing the road and trying to make everyone safer.

City Ordinance 25-3-108. Emerging from alley, driveway, private road or building.

A. The operator of a bicycle emerging from an alley, private road, driveway or building shall yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk or sidewalk area.

B. Upon entering the street, the driver of a bicycle shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the street.

This is similar to the first ordinance listed above. Although on a bicycle, you are still subject to all the rules of the road as a motor vehicle. Bicyclists must yield to any pedestrians on the sidewalk or any vehicles on the road.

City Ordinance 25-3-109. Riding on sidewalks.

A. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.

B. No person shall ride a bicycle on any sidewalk or street when signs are posted prohibiting bicycles on the sidewalk or street.

C. Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.

Whether you ride on the road or on the sidewalk, use caution.

New Mexico State Statute 66-3-707. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

A. Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the division which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

B. No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

C. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the brake wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

The main thing to take away from this, is the requirement for a light when riding at night. Not only is it the law, it is a huge safety issue. If you are going to ride at night, please purchase a light to mount on your bicycle to make yourself more visible to other motorists.

Other tips for bicyclists.

When riding, remember you are a small object on a large road with a lot going on. Anything you can do to make yourself more visible will only make you safer. Wear bright colored clothes when riding and have a light mounted to your bike if riding at night.

Wear a helmet. They may not be the coolest looking thing or even the most comfortable on a hot day, but it could save your life. If you do wear a helmet, make sure it is fitted properly and snug. Make sure the chin strap is fastened and snug under your chin.

Ride defensively. You may have the right of way, but you will not win against a motor vehicle. Always be thinking ahead and looking ahead. Make eye contact with motorists to be sure they see you and always expect the vehicle to pull out in front of you.

Other tips for drivers.

Slow down. Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Slow down as you pass a bicycle on the road. Leave earlier so you will not be so rushed on the road. Speed limits are set based on a number of factors. Abiding by those speed limits will keep everyone safer.

Look twice. Bicycles and motorcycles are more difficult to see due to their size. Now that nice weather is upon us, there will be more of both on the roads. Look twice before pulling out to make sure you did not miss anything.

Drive defensively. Regardless of who has the right of way, a collision with someone on a bicycle could very well be deadly or the cause of great bodily injury. That is not something anyone wants to deal with. If you drive defensively expecting the worse and planning ahead, you will be better prepared if action is required to avoid a collision.

Hopefully after reading this, motorists will see that bicyclists have the same rights to be on the road as the motorist. Hopefully, the bicyclist reading this will see they need to obey the same traffic laws that apply to motorists. Everyone traveling on the roads, whether by car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle, needs to be aware of the others and do their part to share the road. As we do this, we can make the streets in our community a little safer for everyone.

Jensen, JonathanOfficer Jensen has been a law enforcement officer with the Farmington Police Department for almost six years. He has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2013. Officer Jensen is a certified child passenger safety technician and a traffic collision reconstructionist.

Traffic Tip Tuesday: Following too closely

This week we are discussing a topic that is the cause of many traffic collisions. It is that of following too closely. Let’s first look at the state statute and the city ordinance to see what the laws say regarding this matter. The first is the state statute on following too close (66-7-318) and the second is the city ordinance (25-3-2).

New Mexico State Statute 66-7-318. Following too closely.

A. The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

B. The driver of any motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle when traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residence district shall not follow another motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle within three hundred feet, except that this shall not prevent a motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle from overtaking and passing by any like vehicle or other vehicle.

C. Motor vehicles being driven upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district in a caravan or motorcade whether or not towing other vehicles shall not follow the preceding vehicle closer than three hundred feet. This provision shall not apply to funeral processions, nor shall it apply within or outside of a business or residence district to motor vehicle escort vehicles of a motor vehicle escort service, which may, if necessary to maintain the continuity of the escorted unit or units, precede or follow at a distance closer than three hundred feet to the escorted unit or units.

Farmington City Ordinance 25-3-2. Following too closely. 

A. In its entirety, NMSA, 1978 § 66-7-318, incorporated via Farmington City Code § 25-1-1, is the standard within the limits of the city.

B. The testimony of an officer who has personally observed an alleged violator’s driving, as to the reasonableness, prudence and due regard of the alleged violator’s driving shall be legally sufficient proof of violation of this section.

C. Alternatively, proof that the alleged violator followed the preceding vehicle within a time of two seconds or less, or at a distance which can be traveled within two seconds or less, given the posted speed limit for the roadway, shall be legally sufficient proof of violation of this section.

Estimating distance between vehicles can be difficult, so I would like to focus on the second distance as mentioned in the city ordinance. This is often referred to as the two-second rule and I will explain how it works.

When the back of the vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object, you start to count, one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. If the front of your vehicle reaches that object before you finish counting “one thousand two,” then you are too close and need to increase your following distance. You can certainly be more than two seconds away from the vehicle in front of you, but no less than two full seconds. Below is a diagram illustrating how it works.

two-second Rule

As you can see in the diagram, after the back of the red car passes the light pole, the driver of the blue car would start to count. If the front of the blue car reaches the light pole before two full seconds, then the blue car is too close. If there is more than two seconds between the vehicles, then the blue car is at a good distance. It is important to note that while driving, you should not use any kind of timing device (cell phone or stopwatch) as that would be distracting and dangerous. Simply counting will work just fine.

Depending on who you talk to about this, some people may have been taught three seconds as a safe following distance. The two second rule is the minimum standard as outlined in the city ordinance. If you have been taught and feel more comfortable following the three-second rule, there is nothing wrong with that, as it will only give you more time and distance to react if an issue does arise.

There are many factors that may make you consider increasing the following distance. I will attempt to list and briefly describe a few of them. However, this list is not meant to include every possible situation where the following distance should be increased. With time and experience, drivers will become better able to judge those times and instances when distance should be increased.

Some factors where you may want to consider increasing your following distance.

Weather Conditions/ Road Conditions. If it is snowing, raining, or there is low visibility from fog, dust, or anything else, it would be a good idea to increase the distance. In these conditions there may not be as much traction on the roadway making it more difficult to stop in an emergency situation. You may also want to increase the following distance on dirt roads due to the limited traction and to reduce the chance of a rock hitting your vehicle or windshield.

Type of vehicle you are following. This is especially true if you are following a motorcycle. As the weather continues to warm up, there will be more and more motorcycles on the road. Motorcycles can stop a lot faster and in a shorter distance than most vehicles, so increasing following distance behind a motorcycle is a good idea.

Type of vehicle you are driving, towing, and/or hauling. The heavier your vehicle, the more time it will take you to stop your vehicle. That also includes the weight of anything you are hauling or towing. So if you are driving a large vehicle, such as a motorhome, or towing a heavy load such as a camper trailer, you need to be sure to increase your following distance.

Condition of your vehicle. Only you know the condition of your vehicle. This includes the condition of your brakes, tire tread, and tire pressure. If any of those are not as they should be, you should get it fixed as soon as possible. But in the meantime, be sure to increase your following distance.

Speed. As you increase in speed, you should also increase your distance from the vehicle in front of you. Two seconds may be a good distance around town, but once you start getting up to highway speeds, you should increase the time to at least three seconds.

A person may argue that if you leave too large a gap between you and the vehicle in front of you, then someone is going to change lanes in front of you. To that I would say, is okay. Let the other vehicle cut in and now readjust your distance to that vehicle. In the overall picture, it may delay you about two minutes to your overall destination, but you will be a lot safer on the roadway. And if you were to be in a collision, that will probably set you back at least 20 minutes, so a few minutes slower really is not all that bad.

No matter if you are a new driver or a seasoned driver with years of experience, I would encourage everyone to test out the two second rule the next time you are out driving. I think most people will find that on a regular basis, they are within two seconds from the vehicle ahead of them. If you aren’t, just make the necessary adjustments in your driving habits. By doing this, you will decrease the chances of rear ending the vehicle in front of you.

Jensen, JonathanOfficer Jensen has been a law enforcement officer with the Farmington Police Department for almost six years. He has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2013. Officer Jensen is a certified child passenger safety technician and a traffic collision reconstructionist.