Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

Mayor Keller was joined by city officials and community leaders on Tuesday to announce the Vision Zero action plan, a collaboration between City departments, agencies, and community partners. The partnership was announced in the wake of a wave of several traffic-related fatalities in Albuquerque.

Keller emphasized that the goal of the Vision Zero action plan and the use of mobile speed enforcement units in areas of high speeding activity is intended to serve as a deterrent rather than a speed trap. “We must have pragmatic solutions that will actually make speeders slow down and stop endangering our community. We’re starting the conversation and policymaking effort, while inviting the community to weigh in as we work to reduce fatalities and make our streets safer for everyone,” Keller said

City Councilors Brook Bassan, Klarissa Peña, and Lan Sena have co-sponsored a resolution for City Council to consider the proposal. “Speeding has been an issue in our collective districts, and really something all of Council has been working together on to figure out how we can become more proactive rather than reactive,” Councilor Klarissa Peña said. 

The city is currently exploring the technology and urges community members to voice their opinion on how best to tackle the growing speeding problem. The Mayor and council members say they can combat speeding in the city with the most equitable approach possible. They hope that mobile speed enforcement units will also significantly reduce unnecessary police interactions with the public and citations issued by a mobile speed enforcement unit will be individually reviewed. The city’s website states that “the technology can serve as an unbiased enforcement mechanism, without saturating police officers in certain neighborhoods.” 

APD Commander Joseph Viers voiced his support for the use of mobile speed enforcement units. “Other cities station officers at dozens of speeding hotspots; that’s not the right solution for Albuquerque. We want to keep our officers focused on violent crime,” Viers said. “We will continue giving speeding citations, but we believe that additional speeding enforcement can be effectively done without the presence of an officer and without diverting policing resources from other urgent priorities.”

According to the city, traffic and speeding-related fatalities have increased fourfold since 2010. Areas of high speeding activity have also shifted to other areas of the city which have not traditionally seen the activity. The Lead and Coal corridor is one example of a neighborhood that has seen a dramatic increase in traffic and speeding. The city is currently studying the use of automated red lights for that area.

City of Albuquerque Vision Zero Coordinator Terra Reed views the use of mobile speed enforcement units as a step in the right direction to reduce traffic-related fatalities in the city. Reed noted that the use of mobile speed enforcement units “when incorporated with other traffic calming measures that we are pursuing, represents a big step forward in encouraging safer driving.”

Family members of Erika Chavez, who was killed in September after she was hit by a car that ran a red light, were also in attendance at the announcement to voice their support for the city’s initiative to combat speeding.  

In 2011, city voters voted to end Mayor RJ Berry’s red light camera program and speed vans were removed with automated cameras. At the time, people complained that receiving a traffic ticket in the mail, directed at the owner not the driver, did little to curb bad behavior when it was occurring.

Community members can contact the city government about the proposed program at speeding@cabq.gov to provide their input. 

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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.