SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is ramping up enforcement in an effort to ensure motorists are safe this week as many Texans are traveling for the holidays.
DPS officials are increasing the number of Texas Highway Patrol Troopers on the roads from Wednesday through Sunday, according to a news release.
DPS troopers will be looking for people who are not wearing seat belts, speeding, failing to follow the Move Over, Slow Down law and drivers who might be driving while intoxicated, among other laws.
The Move Over, Slow Down law requires all motorists to move over at least one lane, if possible, when they’re approaching an emergency vehicle that is parked on the shoulder while warning lights are in operation.
So far this year, from Jan. 1 through Nov. 12, DPS has issued 11,165 warnings and citations for violations of this law, according to DPS officials.
“This Thanksgiving more people will be out and it’s important to remember it’s up to each one of us to keep the roads safe,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “DPS will do its part to keep Texas safe by holding people accountable, and we want everyone who may be driving for the holiday to do their part by obeying all traffic laws, so everyone gets to their destinations unharmed.”
During the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday, DPS issued 36,902 warnings and citations, including 5,287 for speeding; 752 for driving without insurance; 513 for seat belt and child seat violations; and 245 violations for Move Over, Slow Down.
Texas troopers made 395 felony arrests, 205 DWI arrests and 120 fugitive arrests in 2020 during Thanksgiving holiday week, officials said.
DPS offers the following safety tips for the Thanksgiving holiday:
- Don’t drink and drive. Make alternate plans if you are consuming alcohol.
- Move Over or Slow Down for police, fire, EMS, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. Show the same courtesy to fellow drivers who are stopped on the side of the road.
- Buckle up everyone in the vehicle — it’s the law.
- Slow down, especially in bad weather, heavy traffic, unfamiliar areas or construction zones.
- Eliminate distractions while driving, including the use of mobile devices. Texas law prohibits the use of portable wireless devices to read, write or send an electronic message unless the vehicle is stopped.
- If you’re using a navigation device or app, have a passenger operate it, so you can keep your eyes on the road.
- Drive defensively, as holiday travel can present additional challenges.
- Don’t drive fatigued — allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- On multi-lane roads, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous and avoids impeding traffic, Texas law requires slower traffic to keep to the right and to use the left lane for passing only (when posted).
- Don’t cut in front of large trucks, and try not to brake quickly in front of them. They can’t maneuver as easily as passenger vehicles and pickup trucks.
- If you can Steer It, Clear It: If you are involved in a non-injury crash and your vehicle can be moved, clear the traffic lanes to minimize traffic impact. Leaving vehicles in a traffic lane increases traffic congestion and leaves those involved with an increased risk of harm or a secondary wreck. On some highways, if you don’t move your vehicle when it’s safe to do so, it’s against the law.
- Check your vehicle to make sure it’s properly maintained and always ensure your cargo is secure.
- Report road hazards or anything suspicious to the nearest law enforcement agency.
- Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions and closures in Texas, visit Drive Texas.