If you’ve ever been to Albuquerque, you’re aware that driving here is pretty fucking awful. It’s a tossup every time you drive: It’s either going to be fine or it’s going to potentially wreck your car and you. I don’t know how many times I’ve driven with a friend and been scared shitless because they think they know what they’re doing. I try to call people out whenever I’m driving with them, and I usually get called a backseat driver. Excuse me, but I don’t want to die trapped in a fiery cage while shouting, “I told you not to do that you nitwit!”. Let’s explore why nearly everyone in Burque sucks ass when driving.
The worst time to drive in town is during rush hour. Since Albuquerque is pretty spread out and not as populated as other western cities, one would assume that it would be easy to drive here (whatever that means). That would take common sense and attention, though, which most Burqueno-drivers lack. Drivers tend to be overly aggressive and brash during prime driving hours. I try to avoid driving around 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm, but unfortunately that’s not realistic. These are the rush hours for a reason: It’s when most people have to get to places. More than trying to avoid driving during a certain time, I make a large effort to not drive in certain areas during this time.
I’ve found that the interstates are a shit-show during rush hour, along with major roads and highly condensed areas. When I worked in Rio Rancho (circa 2012), I would usually get off around 4pm. I would walk ever-so-slowly to my car dreading driving back home to the East Mountains. Driving on I-25, especially around Jefferson was scary. I would only loosen my grip on my steering wheel once I was past the Tramway exit on I-40. I also hate driving around the Base during the mornings. Afternoons are fine, but mornings? Fuck that.
When I was a teenager, my mom and I would carpool most of the time. We would have to leave our house (which is about 35 minutes from the Base if you drive the speed limit), and our goal was to leave about an hour before she had to be at work on Base. We would usually sit in traffic at the Eubank gate for 5-20 minutes; we could never be sure how long it would take. I also don’t like driving through the center areas of Downtown. It never works because people don’t understand that you have to drive the speed limit to catch all the green lights.
Recently I was driving home—which is Downtown for me—and I was going through the traffic circle. I think 80% of the drivers that go through there don’t know how to use traffic circles. I was driving in the circle (so I had the right-of way) and a truck pulled up to the circle going east and almost hit me and then they had the nerve to honk at me like I was the one who didn’t know how traffic circles work.
The only people that are comparable to the god-awful drivers in Albuquerque are Italian drivers. Half of the time when I was in a vehicle in Italy, I was genuinely afraid for my life. I’m never as scared of driving as I was then, but it’s nevertheless daunting. We don’t use our blinkers, we drive too fast, we don’t check our mirrors, we’re distracted (texting and talking on the phone while driving is still illegal, dummies), we run red lights and stop signs, we all-out ignore signs, and road rage is getting wild. To paraphrase John Mulaney, we’re all like a one hundred year old, blind dog who’s texting while driving and drinking a smoothie.
It seems as a city, we’ve agreed recently to try to do better. Let’s drop the ‘try’ and just do better.
I am trying to leave town in my truck. People have placed two garbage cans as obstacles in the road and have dug a series of holes as part of a contest. I swerve and spin to avoid them but finally must come to a stop. It is impossible to get out of town. Everyone has gone mad, making their own barrier contests.
I am driving with G on a one-lane, elevated, on-ramp type road, surrounded by other similar structures. G points out that I have blown through the light on Montgomery a second time. I tell her I didn't see it. Little colored balls fall into the folds of my jacket. I see some nurses sliding out of an escape chute from a three-story brick building. This is because of the volcano eruption report. We find my friend, D, and I ask him, "What's the word on the STREET?"
We can't always blame it on the booze. Sometimes bad drivers are just bad drivers, particularly on Paseo del Norte. A report by UNM’s Division of Government Research breaks down the 50 worst intersections in the state based on data from 2007 through 2009. Paseo del Norte at Coors as well as at Jefferson tie for the No. 1 spots with 391 crashes apiece. Coors and Paseo is slightly more dangerous, as 118 of those crashes (or 30 percent) were fatal. (Paseo and Jefferson comes in at 110 fatalities, or 28 percent.) More intersections to steer clear of: bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)
Although we can't tell you which roads are guaranteed to bring you home safe on a Friday night, we can tell you which to avoid. Data gathered by UNM’s Division of Government Research between 2007 and 2009 ranks the odd little intersection where Central and Zuni merge (they’re parallel elsewhere) as No. 1 in percentage of accidents involving alcohol, with 11.8 percent of the 34 crashes caused by intoxication. To see how your intersection ranks, go to bit.ly/abqcarcrashes. (EK)
A contract with Arizona-based Redflex expired in Oct. 2010, and we thought they were gone. No such luck. A month later Mayor Richard Berry reinstated red-light cameras at 14 intersections throughout the city. Not only do the cameras catch you red-handed, estimates say that an additional $370,000 was needed in tax money to keep the program in place. On average, 73 citations are issued per month and make up one-third of the city’s moving violation tickets. Data from 2010 put the intersection at Central and Coors as the clear frontrunner, with 3,036 citations issued between January and August. Add that to 4,385 citations at the same intersection in 2009. Fines are $75 and can be paid by mail or online. The question of whether to keep the system in place goes to Albuquerque voters on Oct. 4. For more on these robocop cameras: 1.usa.gov/abqredlightcameras. (EK)
9:00 am Leave Omaha, NE
10:00 am 100 Calorie Bag Blue Diamond Almonds 100 calories
10:30 am 5 Nilla Wafers 88 calories
1:15 pm McDonald's in Ogallala, NE
Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich and small French Fries 780 calories
2:00 pm Zagnut bar 220 calories
6:00 pm Pueblo, Co. Cracker Barrel
Homestyle Chicken Dinner, with hashbrown casserole, greens (with bacon), a biscuit and a corn muffin 1418 calories
8:15 pm 3 Original Bulls-eyes candies 130 calories
10:30 pm Giant Chunky bar 570 calories
12:15 am Arrive in Albuquerque, NM
5:30 pm Leave Albuquerque, NM
6:40 pm 1 carrot 52 calories
9:20 pm Arby's in Raton, NM
Max Roast Beef Sandwich and 2 piece Potato Cakes 870 calories
10:30 pm 5 Nilla Wafers 88 calories
11:00 pm Heath Bar 210 calories
Between 11:30 pm and 4:30 am
9 ounces Rio Grand Chile Pistachios 810 calories
1 package Jacklinks Buffalo Jerky 240 calories
8:15 am McDonald's in Aurora, NE
Big Breakfast 740 calories
10:30 am Arrive in Omaha, NE
9:10 am Leave Austin, TX
9:30 am: McDonalds drive thru:
Sausage McMuffin, Hash Brown 600 calories
+ Eggs and one pancake from my kids uneaten Big Breakfast 327 calories
10:45 am: 2 servings Wheat Thins 290 calories
noon: 1 Nutty Buddie 310 calories
1:30 pm: Fort Sheridan, TX, eat lunch at K-Bob's Steakhouse
(sign on door warns air conditioning not working properly)
K-Bob Steakhouse's Famous K-Bob Burger with steak fries 1100 calories (approx)
K-Bob Steakhouse's Salad Wagon 200 calories (approx)
3:45 pm: 1/2 box Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits 600 calories
6:00 pm 1 single serve packet of Pringles 160 calories
1/2 bag Reese's Pieces 105 calories
8:45 pm 1/2 Oh Henry! bar 115 calories
1 Chick-O-Stick 240 calories
10:05 pm arrive in Albuquerque, NM
I wrote Rules for Driving in Albuquerque back in college while I was taking a public speaking class. My topic was “SUV’s and Why I Hate Them,” and the list wasn’t part of the assignment, but an afterthought. I lost a few years in there, so no original copy exists, but my commute daily from Belen to Albuquerque brings the list to mind.
From the best of my recollection this is the list (with apologies to Chuck Palahniuk):
The first rule of Albuquerque driving is you do not use turn signals.
The second rule of Albuquerque driving is you DO NOT USE TURN SIGNALS.
The third rule of Albuquerque driving is if you must use turn signals, use them incorrectly. For example, signal left, make hard right.
The fourth rule of Albuquerque driving is stop signs are optional.
The fifth rule of Albuquerque driving is never drive the speed limit. Drive maddeningly slow or dangerously fast. The middle shall not hold.
The sixth rule of Albuquerque driving is maintain a length of one quarter of a car length behind me on the freeway. What, are you reading my bumper sticker?!
The seventh rule of Albuquerque driving is green means go, yellow means go faster, red lights means stop but only after seven seconds.
The eighth rule of Albuquerque driving is why get a license plate when you can have a temporary tag forever. Trust me, temporary tags are very cool. I don’t understand why this last one hasn’t taken hold up in the northeast whites.
Please, drive safely. Be nice.
This is supposedly a flickr URL, but has some kind of problem: http:/