Rules of the road

Freedom New Mexico illustration: Liliana Castillo

By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico

Clovis and Portales police officials said area drivers have lost their awareness of the rules of the road.

“I try to correct (the loss of the rules) when I can,” said Roland Kroeger, master patrol officer with the Clovis Police Department. “When I stop you, it’s usually for a safety violation. I’m not just trying to pull you over, I’m trying to improve driving habits,” Kroeger said.

Kroeger said the biggest issue is how drivers handle uncontrolled intersections.

“People need to understand to yield to the right, always to the right. A lot of times people arrive at an intersection at the same time and they think they both own it,” Kroeger said. “People just need to slow down.”

Similar issues are seen in Portales, according to Capt. Lonnie Berry of the Portales Police Department.

“Typically what causes most of our accidents is failure to yield,” Berry said. “Speed is a factor. People misjudge the speed a car is traveling at. The speed limit is 25, but they may be going 40-45, so they don’t clear in time.”

Motorists are required to pass a written and practical exam in New Mexico.

According to Clovis Municipal Court, the two citations given most in 2007 were speeding at 2,344 and no driver’s license at 1,187.

Traffic citations by category in Clovis, according to the Municipal Court 2007 Offense Report.
• Speeding — 2,344
• No driver’s license — 1,187
• Ran stop sign — 463
• Failure to obey traffic control — 407
• Turn stop movements required signal — 153
• Careless driving — 112
• Right of way — 91
• Reckless driving — 40

Road rules quiz
1. When stopped at a stoplight and the light changes to green, and traffic is blocking the intersection, you should:
A. Honk loud enough to blow their cars out of your way.
B. Allow crossing traffic to clear the intersection before you go ahead.
C. Try to maneuver around them to get through the intersection.

2. What must school bus drivers do before crossing train tracks?
A. Look both ways.
B. Shout “hold on tight” to their passengers.
C. Go no faster than 10 mph.
D. Open the doors of the bus.

3. A reflective orange triangle on the rear of a vehicle means:
A. It is traveling less than 25 mph.
B. It is on its way to a cheese convention.
C. It is traveling less than 15 mph.

4. A railroad crossing sign means the same as:
A. A stop sign.
B. A yield sign.
C. None of the above.

5. High beams let you see:
A. Twice as far as low beams.
B. Three times as far as low beams.
C. Four times as far as low beams.

6. Signal at least ____ feet before you make your turn.
A. 400
B. 200
C. 100

7. If vehicles are piled up behind you:
A. Keep your speed and allow them to pass you in turn.
B. Pull over when safe to do so and let them pass.
C. Give them a bad hand gesture and continue rocking out to Kelly Clarkson.

8. Alcohol is involved in about ___% of the traffic crashes in which someone is killed.
A. 80
B. 60
C. 40
D. 20

9. A parking brake should be used:
A. Always.
B. Only when parked on a incline.
C. Only if other cars are parked behind you.

10. Rule of thumb for headlights in inclement weather is:
A. If you can’t see a car 20 feet in front of you, turn on your headlights.
B. If you turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights.
C. If you can’t read road signs, turn on your headlights.

11. When driving on packed snow, you should:
A. Slow to half normal speed.
B. Slow to a quarter normal speed.
C. Wait until the snow melts before venturing out.

12. Animal crossing signs mean:
A. Animals are often seen in the area.
B. Animals tend to cross the road in the area.
C. Vehicles have hit wildlife in the area.
D. There’s a zoo in the area.

13. At 50 mph, it can take about ____ feet to react to something you see and bring your vehicle to a stop.
A. 100
B. 200
C. 300
D. 400

14. On multi-lane roads:
A. Stay in the right lane except to pass.
B. Travel in the left lane if you want to.
C. Travel at a consistent speed, weaving in and out of traffic as needed.

15. Drivers may not enter an intersection unless:
A. They can get through it without having to stop.
B. They can get through it as soon as the next light changes green.
C. They can inch extremely close to the car in front of them to be partially out of the way of crossing traffic.

Questions and answers pulled from the New Mexico Driver Manual from the Motor Vehicle Division.

1. B. Must allow crossing traffic to clear the intersection before you go ahead.
2. D. Open the doors of the bus.
3. A. It is traveling less than 25 mph.
4. B. A yield sign.
5. A. Twice as far as low beams.
6. C. 100
7. B. Pull over when safe to do so and let them pass.
8. C. 40
9. A. Always.
10. B. If you turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights.
11. A. Slow to half normal speed.
12. C. Vehicles have hit wildlife in the area.
13. D. 400
14. A. Stay in the right lane except to pass.
15. A. They can get through it without having to stop.

Source: New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division.