AUSTIN – Memorial Day is just days away and that means kids are getting out of school, the days are getting longer and more people are hitting the road. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is taking this time to also remind drivers to celebrate this unofficial kickoff to summer safely so that everyone can enjoy their holiday.
Today through May 29, the Texas Highway Patrol will participate in Memorial Day enforcement efforts including Click It or Ticket and Operation CARE (Crash Awareness Reduction Effort). Click It or Ticket is an enforcement campaign that encourages people to wear their seat belts. Operation CARE is a specialized campaign in which Troopers look for drivers who are speeding, intoxicated or violating other laws. Troopers will also watch for drivers not complying with the state’s Move Over, Slow Down law.
“We know Memorial Day is a busy time on the state’s roads, and we encourage people to just take a little extra time, obey the traffic laws and watch out for each other,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “By following traffic laws, paying attention to other drivers and buckling your seat belt, we all get to have a safer holiday and that’s really what’s important.”
During the 2022 Memorial Day campaign, Troopers issued more than 66,700 citations and warnings. This includes 4,790 citations for speeding; 1,184 for no insurance; and more than 718 citations for individuals without seat belts or child seat restraints. DPS also arrested 195 people on DWI charges, 175 fugitives and 296 people for other felony charges.
DPS encourages drivers to follow these safety tips during Memorial Day weekend and beyond:
- 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. So far in 2023, there have been more than 2,430 move over, slow down violations.
- 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.
- On multi-lane roads, 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
DPS would also like to remind Texans about the iWatchTexas program. This is a critical resource for reporting suspicious activity within the community in order to help prevent dangerous attacks. Everyone is urged to download the free iOS or Android mobile app. Tips can be reported via the website, the mobile app or by calling 844-643-2251. All reports are confidential.
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.