Millions of Texans are hitting the road this holiday season and all those vehicles on the highways mean traffic safety is more important than ever.
We all know the basics – slow down, don’t drink and drive, give the other cars plenty of room – but there’s a particularly important rule of the road in the Lone Star State that too many drivers are either unaware of, or just simply choose to ignore.
So, here’s a word to the wise: If you’re driving in Texas and you see an emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road, state law requires you to slow down or move over. The term “emergency vehicle,” by the way, includes police cars, ambulances, fire trucks and tow trucks.
Texas law requires drivers to slow down to at least 20 miles per hour under the posted speed limit or, if possible, to change lanes when they’re passing a first responder stopped on the road. With so many people traveling, odds are that somewhere along the way you will encounter emergency vehicles handling an accident, a vehicle breakdown or a traffic stop.
“Our tow truck licensees work hard every day to help people who are stranded on the side of the road – and, like everyone else, they are anxious to return home safely each night,” Brian E. Francis, executive director for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation,” said in a news release. “Please slow down or move over when you see emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. It’s the safe thing to do and it’s the law. Let’s make the holiday memorable for positive reasons and not because someone was killed or injured.”
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation regulates tow trucks as well as overseeing driver education and driving safety courses.
Also urging caution for holiday drivers is MedStar, the Fort Worth area’s ambulance and mobile health care service. Here are some safety tips from MedStar:
- Stay safe on the roads over the holidays – and every day.
- Prepare your car for winter and keep an emergency kit with you.
- Get a good night’s sleep before departing and avoid drowsy driving.
- Leave early, planning ahead for heavy traffic.
- Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled.
- Put that cellphone away; many distractions occur while driving, but cellphones are the main culprit.
- Practice defensive driving.
- Designate a sober driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription and illegal drugs can cause impairment.