Geospatial and Population Studies MSC06 3510
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

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NMDOT crash data is protected by Federal mandate Title 23 U.S.C. Section 409 which forbids the discovery and admission into evidence of reports, data, or other information compiled or collected for activities required pursuant to Federal highway safety programs, or for the purpose of developing any highway safety construction improvement project, which may be implemented utilizing federal-aid highway funds, in tort litigation arising from occurrences at the locations addressed in such documents or data.


TRU was first known as the Division of Government Research (DGR) and was originally established by UNM's Political Science Department in 1946. Our focus was contract and grant-funded applied research projects. We conducted research related to governmental issues particular to New Mexico. In addition to traffic safety, we have done work related to health care, economics, public policy, public safety, and other social research issues. 

In 1975, DGR began doing traffic crash data analysis, SAS programming, and geospatial analysis for the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT). DGR began publishing the annual report on New Mexico traffic crash data in 1981. Starting in 1984, a specialized report on New Mexico DWI (driving while intoxicated) data was also published each year.

In 1981, DGR began to deliver GIS-based data analysis. We developed the New Mexico Geographic Road Network Database (GRNDB), a transportation-oriented geographic information system (GIS) capable of displaying traffic crash data on maps. In 1984, we were one of the first 100 users of ESRI GIS software.

In 2012, the Division of Government Research was formally renamed the Traffic Research Unit (TRU) after merging with UNM Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS). In that same year, NMDOT awarded TRU the contract to construct a new, comprehensive traffic crash data entry system. The new data entry system allows NMDOT to meet federal standards in timeliness, accuracy, completeness, uniformity, integration, and accessibility of traffic crash data. TRU now annually builds and maintains the NMDOT traffic crash database on behalf of NMDOT, while continuing our legacy of over 30 years of traffic crash data analysis.