AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is encouraging everyone to end 2022 safely as they travel and spend time with family and friends this holiday season.
The Texas Highway Patrol will conduct its annual Christmas and New Year’s holiday traffic enforcement campaign beginning Dec. 23 and will be out on the roads looking for people who are speeding, not wearing their seat belts, driving while intoxicated or committing other traffic violations.
Additionally, this year DPS is reminding everyone to be watchful of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity you may see through iWatchTexas
“We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Whether you’re staying local to end the year or traveling, we encourage everyone to make safety their number one priority by following a few tips that will help make our roads and celebrations safer for everyone.”
The Texas Highway Patrol will increase enforcement as part Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), which runs nationwide from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. During DPS’ 2021 Christmas and New Year’s enforcement efforts, there were more than 91,000 citations and warnings issued. This included 30,291 speeding warnings/citations; 2,780 seat belt and child seat violations; 1,881 citations for driving without insurance; and 456 citations and warnings for Move Over, Slow Down violations.
DPS offers the following safety tips for the upcoming 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.
- 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.
- Keep the Texas Roadside Assistance number stored in your phone. Dial 1-800-525-5555 for any type of assistance. The number can also be found on the back of a Texas Driver License.
- 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.
The iWatchTexas program is a critical resource for reporting suspicious activity in communities in order to help prevent dangerous attacks as we bring 2022 to a close. Everyone is urged to download the free iOS or Android mobile app if you haven’t done so already. Tips can be reported via the website, the mobile app or by calling 844-643-2251. Reports may be submitted confidentially. For information on how to use iWatchTexas, you can view this how-to video.
Remember, iWatchTexas is not for emergencies. If there is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
DPS is also asking travelers to be on the lookout for possible human trafficking this holiday season. An increase in people on the road and at airports means there is an increased opportunity for the community to spot potential human trafficking activities and report it to law enforcement. This can save lives! If you are traveling, be observant of others around you and take note of the following indicators of human trafficking:
- The person appears to be under control of another person either physically (someone else controls the person’s possessions i.e., ID, money, phone) or psychologically (little to no eye contact, unable to speak for themselves or unable to make simple decisions without approval).
- The person has little to no awareness of their surroundings including where they are or where they are headed.
- The person has untreated illness or infection, visible injuries, appears malnourished or sleep deprived.
- The person’s clothing is inappropriate for the weather or environment. The person is dressed in a manner that does not appear age appropriate or makes them appear older.
- The person is being transported to and from work by their employer.
- The person lives where they work or works excessively long or unusual hours.
- The person’s workplace has security measures that are unusual or excessive for the type of business (i.e., boarded or opaque windows, excessive security cameras).
The presence of an indicator does not confirm an occurrence of human trafficking; however, the combination and context of indicators may indicate human trafficking pending law enforcement investigation and you are encouraged to report it.
If you see signs of human trafficking while traveling for the holidays, call 911 immediately to report it and be ready to give as many details as possible. You can also make a report oniWatchTexas or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “BeFree” to 233733
Remember do not endanger yourself or others by intervening or confronting someone you suspect of engaging in human trafficking if it is not safe to do so.