505 Circles of Hell

Circle Three: Driving in Burque

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.