Crashes raise safe driving concerns

Thomas Garcia

With holiday travel just around the corner, practicing safe and sensible driving can help ensure your road trip does not end in tragedy, according to New Mexico State Police Lt. Cleo Baker.

“The obvious thing to do is give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going,” Baker said. “Then remember to wear your safety belts.”

Baker said drivers experiencing drowsiness should take a break from the road. He said fatigue is often one of the causes of the crashes state police investigate.

“Many of the accidents are in the early morning hours or late night,” Baker said. “During the night some of the occupants may take off their seatbelts to lay down.”

Baker said the driver may fall asleep and veer off the road. When that happens, the unrestrained occupants are often thrown from the vehicle.

Last year in Quay County during the Thanksgiving weekend, state police investigated four accidents without injuries and one with injuries, Baker said. During Christmas 2009 there were no accidents reported.

In the past three weeks there have been three fatal accidents in Quay County resulting in the death of four people, according to press releases from state police Lt. Eric Garcia.

The latest fatality occurred Nov. 5. Amanda Degand, 26 of Arcadia, Okla., was killed in a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 40 west of Tucumcari.

On Nov. 1, Jeanette Willians, 77 of Hazelhurst, Wisc., and her brother-in-law Francis Williams, 74 of Mosinee, Wisc., died from injuries they suffered when their 1999 Ford Taurus was struck by a 1998 Buick and then by a semi tractor trailer on U.S. Highway 54 west of Nara Visa.

On Oct. 24, Robert Allen, 39, of California City, Calif. died following a semi truck crash on I-40, 10 miles east of San Jon.