AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is encouraging Texans to end 2022 safely as they travel and gather this holiday season.

According to a press release from DPS, troopers will increase enforcement as part Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), which runs nationwide from Friday, December 23 through Monday, January 2.

Troopers will be looking for people not wearing seat belts, driving while intoxicated, speeding and failing to follow the Move Over, Slow Down law and other traffic violations, DPS said.

“We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw in the press release. “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.”

DPS offers the following safety tips to in its press release:

  • 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.

Additionally, this year the DPS is reminding everyone to be watchful of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity seen through iWatchTexas.

“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,” according to the press release.

DPS reminded everyone that iWatchTexas is not for emergencies. If there is an emergency, you should call 911 immediately.

DPS also asked travelers to be on the lookout for possible human trafficking this holiday season. 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.