CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) – Gov. Susana Martinez has outlined her commitment to boosting patrols along highways in southeastern New Mexico following a string of traffic fatalities in Eddy County.
The governor’s move comes in response to a letter from Carlsbad city officials who voiced concerns about the growing problem.
In the heart of southern New Mexico’s oil country, Eddy and Lea counties have been bustling in recent years. The oil boom has brought housing shortages and more traffic on the highways.
“Carlsbad and Eddy County roads are an important part of our state’s continuing economic success, and keeping our families and communities safe remains the highest priority,” Martinez wrote in a letter to city officials.
Under the plan outlined by the governor, state police will assign an additional officer to Carlsbad once the next class of cadets graduates in June. They also plan to work more closely with local law enforcement to target aggressive drivers.
State motor transportation police are planning more commercial vehicle inspections and enforcement, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.
Martinez’s response was well-received by local officials.
“Having more patrol can help reduce the number of accidents on our roads,” Mayor Dale Janway told the Current-Argus.
State Police have cited available resources as one of the factors for the low number of patrol units in the area. State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said the department, which also oversees the Motor Transportation Department, has taken a hit in employment of officers recently.
Currently, state police have one assigned sergeant and six patrol officers in the Carlsbad area, with additional help coming from officers assigned to Lea and Chavez counties.
April was a dangerous month along Eddy County roads. Five fatalities were reported, with one involving the death of a 3-year-old girl who was ejected from a vehicle after the driver hit an 18-wheeler on U.S. 285.