Pete Buttigieg Talks Road Safety in Albuquerque

Nov. 17, 2022
The U.S. Transportation Secretary will visit Arizona on Thursday

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, was in Albuquerque, New Mexico Wednesday to talk about road safety and investments in local infrastructure.

Buttigieg's itinerary included a stop at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute for a series of public safety demonstrations. He toured a mobile police vehicle with blood-alcohol testing capabilities and heard from people who host clinics teaching parents how to properly install car seats. He also had a roundtable discussion with Pueblo governors and Apache leaders on roadway safety and infrastructure. Today, he is scheduled to meet with leaders of the Navajo and Hopi nations in Arizona.

New Mexico and Arizona were chosen for Buttigieg’s visit on public safety because tribal communities are disproportionately affected by roadway fatalities.

There have been 395 fatalities on New Mexico roads through October of this year, according to traffic fatality reports, including 49 people under 21 years old. The state for six years has led the nation in fatal crashes involving pedestrians per capita, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has transportation-related funding specifically for tribal communities.

“Historically, … the under investment that has taken place in America with regard to infrastructure has been especially hard on Indian Country,” Buttigieg said. “Just making sure that we’re finding the right kinds of projects that are going to make a difference, that can help with jobs, that can help with safety, that are going to help with climate, which is, again, impacting tribal communities disproportionately, that’s why it’s important we have these kind of engagements.”

Traffic safety director for the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), Jeff Barela, said the state focuses on the “Three Es” to make the roads safer: education, enforcement and engineering.

“We’re constantly looking to help improve the safety on our roads,” Barela said.