AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will conduct two traffic operations simultaneously this week to help keep drivers safe over the Fourth of July holiday. Starting Wednesday, July 3, through Friday, July 5, DPS Troopers will increase traffic enforcement as part of Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) and Operation Holiday. DPS Troopers will be looking for those violating the Move Over, Slow Down law, as well as other traffic violations such as DWI, speeding and failure to wear a seat belt, during these enforcement operations.
“As we celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s important to remember to do so safely and responsibly,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “We want to remind everyone to follow posted speed limits, wear your seat belt and designate a sober ride home. Remember, if you see an emergency vehicle or tow truck on the side of the road, slow down or move over. By celebrating responsibly, you can help ensure we all make it home safely.”
Operation Holiday runs in conjunction with the Fourth of July and is geared towards individuals who violate traffic laws. During last year’s holiday enforcement campaign, DPS Troopers issued more than 57,000 citations and warnings, including 1,023 seat belt and child safety restraint citations. DPS enforcement efforts also resulted in 256 DWI arrests, 212 fugitive arrests and 204 felony arrests.
Operation CARE focuses on violations of the state’s Move Over, Slow Down law, with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) assisting DPS Troopers in a non-enforcement capacity. From Jan. 1 through June 25 of this year, DPS conducted 13,988 enforcement actions for Move Over, Slow Down violations.
The law, originally passed in 2003, requires drivers to move over or slow down when certain vehicles — including police, fire, EMS, TxDOT vehicles and tow trucks — are stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated.
Drivers are urged to follow these safety tips during the Fourth of July holiday:
- Do not drink and drive. Make alternate travel plans if you are consuming alcohol.
- 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 the impact on traffic. Leaving vehicles in a traffic lane not only increases traffic congestion, but it also leaves those involved with an increased risk of harm and chance for a secondary collision. On some highways, it is actually a violation of the law to not move your vehicle over when it is safe to do so.
- Move Over or Slow Down for police, fire, EMS, Texas Department of Transportation vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. Also, show the same courtesy to fellow drivers stopped along the road.
- Slow down — especially in bad weather, construction areas, heavy traffic and unfamiliar areas.
- Eliminate distractions while driving, including the use of mobile devices. Texas law prohibits using a portable wireless device to read, write or send an electronic message unless the vehicle is stopped.
- Buckle up everyone in the vehicle — it’s the law.
- Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
- Don’t drive fatigued — allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- If you see a road hazard or if you observe anything suspicious, report it to the nearest law enforcement agency.
- 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 only use the left lane for passing (when posted).
- Before your trip begins, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and always double check to make sure all cargo is secure.
- Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions/closings in Texas, visit Drive Texas.