Written by Jennifer Viegas, CNN
Every fourth car drives through Albuquerque’s roadside crossroads during rush hour. So when one driver got into an argument with other drivers and a second blue arrow activated, many people thought the others were jerks.
“It’s frustrating for people who work for law enforcement because they stop a car and hope to make a traffic stop,” Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Tanner Tixier told CNN affiliate KOAT . “They might think that the driver is speeding and wasting their time with a black antilock-brake device but no officer will speed up when an amber signal is illuminated.”
Every once in a while an all-too-common scenario takes place, an APD spokesperson told CNN: “An officer starts to draw a radar, gets some nearby driver to pull to the side of the road, and goes from there to make a traffic stop.”
Sometimes, said Tixier, the driver yanks the officer into the street and then abruptly turns the red traffic signal red. That’s because there is only one green arrow that drops everyone off at the same light. And, the driver of the car has to turn around and find the exit that way.
“At that point, the officer is stuck,” said Tixier. “He loses control and goes out of control and he has no choice but to stop for the second time.”
The Albuquerque Police Department says any car that breaks the light and cuts off an officer can lose their license. It says a third offense can be a misdemeanor. A fourth offense can result in suspension or revocation of that driver’s license.
In the case of the red light that turned red last week , the police representative says the officer who stopped the vehicle did not arrest the driver. An APD internal investigation is underway to make sure his or her communication was clear and transparent.
There is a solution. A pilot program underway in Santa Fe, New Mexico , was designed to keep the traffic lights green when nobody’s around.
The city has switched to a stop-sign-like signal. The road’s operator can only raise the lights if all the cars have passed through the intersection.
The Albuquerque Police Department says it would like to test something similar in that city.