CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Whether you're taking a long road trip or just heading to the beach or state park, hitting the highway is almost a certainty during the summer months.
State officials want motorists to be safe while traveling the state's highways during the busy summer driving season.
With so many vehicles on the road, the Texas Department of Transportation is asking drivers to stay alert when they get behind the wheel.
Summertime in Texas is the height of travel season, which means a lot of people will be hitting the highways.
“TxDOT has a goal to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2050. It is a part of "end the streak campaign". TxDOT can’t do that alone; we can design safe roads, engineer roads and build safe roads, but we need drivers out there to help us meet this goal,” said TXDOT Public Information Officer Rickey Dailey.
The “Be Safe Drive Smart” campaign is all about helping drivers stay safe.
“If you are driving longer distances, plan your trip. Every two hours or 100 miles stop and take a 15-minute break. Don’t drive drowsy, don’t drive between midnight and 6 a.m. We find more impaired drivers on the road at that time,” Dailey said.
TxDOT adds avoiding tailgating and keeping a safe distance between cars is very important, as well as driving conditions and getting distracted.
“We all know that a key factor in distracted driving are our cell phones. Put them down," Dailey said. "No longer is TxDOT reminding you or giving you a safety suggestion to put your phone down, it is against the law to send, receive, or write a text while driving.
"The first offense is $99.00, the other one can be up to $200.00, and many cities have ordinances that are more restrictive than TxDOT."
TxDOT is also reminding drivers of the "Move over, slow down" law.
“If you see emergency flashers red and blue, or orange and blue, that is law enforcement, that is TxDOT vehicles, and that’s wreckers," Dailey said. "The law demands you move over one lane give them a clear lane. If you can’t move over into the next lane you have to drop your speed to 20 miles an hour below the posted speed.”
Failing to do so can lead to a fine up to $2,000.
TxDOT is alerting motorists to some tips to ensure the safest environment possible when getting on the roadways:
• Never drink alcohol or take sedating medications before driving
• Get plenty of rest before your trip
• Schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles and rest for 15 to 20 minutes during each stop
• Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m.
• Take advantage of the state’s rest areas and travel information centers
• For long trips, travel with a companion who can help you stay alert and share the driving.
Other safe driving tips include:
• Always obey posted speed limits and drive a safe speed for traffic, road and weather conditions
• Be extra cautious driving through road construction or maintenance work zones
• When approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, tow truck or TxDOT vehicle with amber or blue flashing lights on the side of the road, move over a lane
• If moving over is not possible, slow to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit when you approach a stopped vehicle
• Keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you
• Drive with your lights on so you are more visible to oncoming traffic
• Watch for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians
• Plan ahead to allow time for delays. Traffic congestion can be a problem almost anywhere
• Don't tailgate or flash your lights at another driver
• Remember, the left lane is for passing only. If you're in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let the driver by
• Keep your emotions in check and focus on your own driving
• If you encounter an aggressive driver, don’t engage. Give angry drivers plenty of room, avoid eye contact and if you're concerned for your safety, call 9-1-1.