The Fourth of July holiday may be in the rear-view mirror, but the summer driving season still has some life left in it, and the Texas Department of Transportation wants to make sure motorists enjoy their travels and reach their destinations safely, wherever they might go across this great state and beyond.
For many, the summer vacation is a high point between the end of one school year and the start of a new one. Families load up to visit relatives or travel to points of interest, historic sites and tourist attractions of all types. The break in the day-to-day routine is a welcome respite, but as Texas highways have become busier and busier, caution and courtesy should also be travel companions on any venture.
Toward that end, TxDOT reminds everyone who plans to take the roads for an extended vacation or quick getaway to “Be Safe. Drive Smart.”
Motorists should always put safety first and remain alert at all times while behind the wheel. According to a news release from TxDOT, drivers should obey posted speed limits while remembering to drive a safe speed, which can be influenced by traffic, road conditions and weather.
Keep headlights on to be more visible to oncoming traffic, and be on the lookout for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Trips of almost any distance will likely include negotiating a construction zone, and drivers are reminded to slow down and exercise caution in maintenance work zones. Motorists approaching stopped emergency vehicles, tow trucks or TxDOT vehicles with amber or blue flashing lights on the side of the road should, if possible, move over one lane, or, if moving isn’t possible, slow to 20 mph below the posted speed limit when approaching the stopped vehicle.
On longer trips, don’t drink alcohol or take medications that could impair driving skills and get plenty of rest before the trip begins. Another recommended strategy is to schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles and to rest 15 to 20 minutes during these stops.
Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. and advantage of the state’s safety rest areas and travel information centers, which have resources to help motorists get where they’re going. It’s also a good idea, if possible, to travel with at least one other driver who can share the mileage and demands of driving.
Lastly, aggressive drivers and the phenomenon of “road rage” has become more pronounced on highways across the country. TxDOT asks motorists to be patient and avoid aggressive driving as well as, to the extent possible, aggressive drivers.
This can be accomplished with planning ahead and looking at travel routes to allow time for construction zones and traffic congestion. Behaviors such as tailgating and flashing lights at other drivers should be avoided. On four-lane highways, the left lane is a passing lane and should be used only for passing other vehicles before moving back into the right lane.
In dealing with aggressive drivers, use caution, give them plenty of room and avoid eye contact. If for any reason drivers feel their safety is threatened, call 9-1-1.
Traveling should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, and it can be as long as drivers are considerate and focused on their own driving, rather than everyone else’s.
So be safe, wherever the road might take you.