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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.

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The City of Albuquerque is adopting a new approach to tackle speeding on Lead Ave. and Coal Ave., which have been notorious for reckless driving, through the use of “smart” stoplights.

The city received a three-year report titled “Lead Avenue and Coal Avenue Rest-in-Red Feasibility,” which documented how long vehicles would “Rest-in-Red” lights at a specific intersection such as Lead Ave. and Coal Ave. SE from Broadway Blvd. to Washington St. The Rest-In-Red program is expected to discourage drivers from speeding by having a resting red light. The light will automatically be red as cars approach. The light will turn green only if the driver is detected driving the speed limit or under. The study stated, “By resting in RED for all directions, the traffic signal is ready to serve the next vehicle detected immediately upon request. This basic Rest-in-Red operation is more responsive to vehicles regardless of the travel direction.”

Rest-In-Red lights explained from City of Albuquerque report

Other cities that have also implemented Rest-In-Red systems have reported a drop in overall speeding. According to the report, out of 20 sites recorded, 18 have reported a drop in speeding by 0.5 to 5 mph near intersections. The City of Long Beach, California implemented a Rest-In-Red Program in 2012 and identified the project as a success, although no further detail has been provided.

Albuquerque conducted a study in 2018 to address the growing concerns by neighbors over speeding in the SE corridor. The study showed that speeding had been increasing in the corridor. In order to combat the rising speed, the city reduced the overall speed to 30 mph and coordinated the new speed limit with stoplights. A follow-up study in 2019 found that the new restrictions had little effect on speeding.

The study also showed Lead and Coal have some of the city’s worst crash rates. The study reported that the intersections of Lead Ave. and Yale Blvd. as well as Coal Ave. and Buena Vista Blvd. had the highest crash rates among the intersections in the corridor. According to the report, between 2014 and 2018, Lead Ave. and Univerisity Ave., Lead Ave. and Yale Blvd., as well as Coal Ave and Girard Blvd, among others, have crash rates that are two to three times higher than the average in Albuquerque. City Councilor Pat Davis secured $300,000 from state legislators and city bond funds to install “smart” stoplights to address speed along Lead and Coal.

The report cited that the top contributing factors were driver inattention, a failure to yield right away, following too closely and improper backing.

So far the city has not said if it will consider adding “smart” stoplights to other intersections in the city.


*Pat Davis is publisher of The Paper. and an Albuquerque City Councilor. He was not involved in writing this story.

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