Special to The Messenger
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced today its annual Christmas and New Year’s holiday traffic enforcement campaigns will kick off on Wednesday, Dec. 23. DPS is reminding drivers to celebrate the holiday season responsibly by practicing safe driving habits and obeying all traffic laws.
“Another year is drawing to a close, and while there are many reasons to celebrate, we must all remember to do so responsibly to help keep our roadways safe,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “DPS Troopers will increase patrols over the holidays, as will many of our fellow law enforcement partners across the state, and we will be on the lookout for drivers not obeying the law and endangering others. Public safety is our top priority, and we encourage all drivers to put safety first as you celebrate this holiday season.”
As part of two Operation Holiday initiatives, DPS Troopers will be increasing enforcement beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 23, through Saturday, Dec. 26, as well as Thursday, Dec. 31, through Friday, Jan. 1. Simultaneously, the nationwide Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) initiative will run from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3.
The goal of these efforts is to increase safety on Texas roads. DPS Troopers will be looking for drivers who violate the law, including those who are speeding, driving while intoxicated, failing to wear a seat belt, driving without insurance and not complying with the state’s Move Over, Slow Down law, among other traffic violations.
During DPS’ 2019 Christmas and New Year’s holiday enforcement efforts combined, a total of more than 169,000 warnings and citations were issued, including 15,786 speeding citations; 2,105 seat belt and child seat violations; 3,465 citations for driving without insurance; and 1,300 for violations of Move Over, Slow Down. Last year’s enforcement efforts also resulted in 787 DWI arrests, 609 felony arrests and 555 fugitive arrests.
DPS offers the following safety tips for the holiday season:
- 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. This year alone, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 8, DPS issued 12,457 warnings and citations for violations of this law.
- 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. Also, 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 roadways, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving 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).
- 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 is 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.