Is it your first time driving in New Mexico?
Maybe you need to brush up on your knowledge of the rules…
Either way, we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll take you through the New Mexico traffic laws, as well as the road rules (how to share the road).
All this will help you be a better and safer driver…
And it’ll help you avoid those annoying tickets, too.
So let’s begin!
New Mexico Traffic Laws
To help manage traffic and keep everyone safe, the State of New Mexico implements a few laws. Today, we’re going to look at the 5 most common ones:
- General driving laws
- Speed limits
- Parking laws
- Distracted driving laws
- Financial responsibility law
Let’s check them out one by one.
New Mexico General Driving Laws
First up are the general driving laws in the state.
You are not allowed to back up anywhere and anytime unless you’re going to parallel park.
Remember, a lot of drivers won’t expect a car to back up, so there’s a high chance of a collision. If you’ve missed your turn, you have to make a U-turn or keep going forward and make a turn on the next road.
In New Mexico, there are lanes reserved for passing. To spot these, look at the pavement markings – if there are dashed lines, then you can pass.
Now, when passing, do not drive on the shoulder or the right side of the vehicle. The driver may not see you passing if you do so.
In the absence of pavement markings that tell you what lane you should be in, stay on the nearest lane to your turn. This way, you don’t occupy or block other roads not meant for turning.
Also, always use turn signals to tell drivers where you’re going.
If you’re making a right turn, do not swing too wide since you might occupy the other lanes. If you’re making a left turn, avoid cutting a corner or driving too close to the corner since you might collide with other vehicles going straight.
For any turn that you’ll make, yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians crossing.
Here are the rules for giving the right-of-way in New Mexico:
- Yield when a pedestrian is crossing even when they’re not at a crosswalk.
- Drivers turning or entering a road must yield to pedestrians. Do not drive on the sidewalk to avoid them.
- If you see a blind person with a cane or a guide dog, always yield to them. The White Cane Law allows such persons to have access to all roads and sidewalks.
- If you’re turning left, you must yield to oncoming traffic that is going straight.
- Yield to drivers who are already on the roundabout, especially if you’re just entering.
- At intersections where there are no traffic lights, yield to vehicles coming from the right.
- At a 4-way intersection where there are no traffic lights, yield to the first car that arrives at the intersection.
- Yield the right-of-way to trains.
New Mexico Speed Limits
Of course, the speed limit will differ in areas, just look out for signs.
But generally, here are the posted speed limits on certain roads in New Mexico:
- School zones – 15 mph
- Business and residential areas – 30 mph
- Public highways – 55 mph
- Rural interstate highways – 75 mph
Violating a posted speed limit will get 3-8 points on your license, plus fines depending on how far you went over the max limit:
- 1-10 mph over the speed limit – $25
- 11-15 mph over the speed limit – $30
- 16-20 mph over the speed limit – $65
- 21-25 mph over the speed limit – $100
- 26-30 mph over the speed limit – $125
- 31-35 mph over the speed limit – $150
- 36+ mph over the speed limit – $200
New Mexico Parking Laws
Here are the general rules when parking your vehicle in New Mexico:
- Make sure it’s not a hazard to other vehicles. It should be far from the travel lane to avoid collisions.
- Only park in designated areas. Look for signs that say parking is allowed.
- If you’re parking on a hill, turn your wheels sharply towards the curb. If your vehicle starts to roll, it will go toward the side and not to the travel lane.
- Never leave your keys inside the vehicle. Get your keys and lock the doors when you get out.
Here are the areas where you are NOT allowed to park:
- In an intersection, crosswalk, or sidewalk
- Within 25 ft of a crosswalk at an intersection
- In a construction area, especially if it will block traffic
- Within 30 feet of a traffic signal, stop sign, or yield sign
- Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
- Within 20 feet of a fire station driveway on the same side of the street and 75 feet of the driveway on the opposite side of the road
- Within 50 feet of a railroad crossing
- More than 18 inches from the curb
- On any driveway, alley, or private road
- On a bridge, overpass, tunnel, or underpass
- On a parking space meant for handicapped persons, unless you qualify
- On railroad tracks
- On any place where there is a sign that prohibits parking
New Mexico Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving is any behavior that:
- Removes your eyes from the road
- Removes your hands from the steering wheel
- Removes your mind from the driving task
If you noticed, using your phone hits all 3 spots for distracted driving. It’s no wonder, then, that New Mexico prohibits the use of a handheld communication device while driving.
That said, you can still use your phone to answer a call if it’s in hands-free mode.
For drivers with instruction permits and provisional licenses, the hands-free mode for phones is also prohibited.
Now, if you’re caught using your phone while driving, you are fined $25 on the first offense and $50 for every subsequent offense. In some cities in New Mexico however, such as Silver City, violating this law will amount to $500 fines.
New Mexico Financial Responsibility Law
Every driver who operates and owns a vehicle is required to have a motor vehicle liability insurance policy. You are also required to have proof of this policy in your vehicle at all times.
Here are the minimum amounts you must have in New Mexico:
- $25,000 bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
- $50,000 bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any accident
- $10,000 injury to property in any one accident
If you don’t have these minimum amounts or don’t carry proof of your insurance policy, your vehicle registration and license plates may be suspended.
New Mexico Road Rules (How to Share the Road)
Let’s move on to the road rules — how to share the road with other vehicles.
Here, we’ll look in detail at how to share the road with bicycles and large trucks.
How to Share the Road with Bicycles
Here are some tips when driving with bicycles:
- Keep a safe distance between you and the bicyclist. Do not stay beside them in one lane.
- Look out for hand signals from the bicyclist that may signal a turn.
- When passing, give them space. Do not pass on the same lane.
- Look out for bicyclists when making a turn.
How to Share the Road with Large Trucks
Remember, large trucks have blind spots and it’s not as easy to stop as other vehicles.
With that in mind, here are ways to stay safe when driving alongside them:
- Keep a safe distance between you and the truck. The rear is a blind spot, so if you want to be seen, stay at the sides.
- If you have to pass, make a signal and pass quickly.
- Trucks take up a lot of space when turning, so if you see a truck making a turn, give way.
- Never cut in front of a truck since they might not have time to slow down.
And that was what you needed to know about the New Mexico rules of the road.
Now, you know some of the most basic traffic laws in the state — make sure to follow them to avoid tickets and accidents.
Besides that, you also learned how to drive safely with bicycles and large trucks — always follow the tips given here to protect yourself and the other driver.
We hope this article has helped you!