As many Texans hit the road for spring break, St. Patrick’s Day and other local events, the Texas Department of Public Safety is reminding drivers to follow traffic laws and be aware of their surroundings.

According to a news release, the Texas Highway Patrol will increase its presence on roads throughout the state through March 19 and be on the lookout for drivers violating the law.

The Texas Department of Transportation reported every 7 hours and 43 minutes, one person dies on Texas roads in an alcohol-related crash. During spring break in 2021, 874 crashes occurred in Texas with a driver under the influence of alcohol, including 31 deaths. TxDOT did not share spring break crash data in 2022.

TxDOT is partnering with college students to reduce traffic fatalities through a program called U in the Driver Seat, which helps students find a sober ride and understand the risks of driving under the influence. The program was founded at Texas A&M University, according to a news release.

TxDOT will also host outreach events at “key spring break locations” through March, according to the release.

According to the DPS, drivers should follow these tips to stay safe on the roads during spring break and beyond:
  • Do not drink and drive. If you plan to drink, have a designated driver or find another ride, such as public transportation or a ride-hailing service.
  • Move over and slow down for police, fire, emergency medical services, tow trucks and TxDOT vehicles with their emergency lights on. Do the same for fellow drivers stopped on the side of the road.
  • In a noninjury crash, move your vehicle out of traffic whenever possible.
  • Slow down in bad weather, heavy traffic, unfamiliar areas and construction zones.
  • Avoid distractions, including cellphones. Have a passenger navigate so you can keep your eyes on the road.
  • Ensure everyone in your vehicle is wearing a seat belt.
  • Do not drive when tired.
For information about traffic and road closures, including weather-related information, Texans can visit the Drive Texas portal. For roadside assistance, Texans can call 800-525-5555. The number is also written on the back of all Texas driver’s licenses.

“We know families and young adults are anxious to hit the road or get away for spring break, and safety must continue to be a priority,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in the release. “No matter where you’re traveling, please follow the traffic laws, be aware of your surroundings, report suspicious activity and do your part to keep everyone safe. We need everyone working together to ensure this spring break is a safe one for Texans.”

Tens of thousands of people are traveling to Central Texas in March for a variety of events, including South by Southwest Conference & Festivals, Rodeo Austin, the CMT Music Awards and more. For more information about traffic and safety in Austin, see Community Impact’s previous reporting.

Looking out for others

The DPS has also asked travelers to keep an eye out for potential human trafficking on the roads and at airports.

Someone may be a victim of human trafficking if they are controlled by another person and are not allowed to move or travel freely. A lack of money, physical identification or personal possessions is another sign, especially if someone else holds onto their money or legal documents.

According to anti-human trafficking organization A21, signs of abuse, malnutrition and a lack of medical care can also indicate human trafficking. Some victims of trafficking may be dependent on their abuser or fearful and distrusting of other people.

Texans can report suspicious activity or potential human trafficking through iWatchTexas, according to the DPS. Tips can be made online, through the mobile app or by calling 844-643-2251.

Suspected human trafficking can also be reported by calling 911 or contacting the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Texans can call 888-373-7888 or text “BeFree” to 233733 to reach the hotline.

“Remember, do not endanger yourself or others by intervening or confronting someone you suspect of engaging in human trafficking if it is not safe to do so,” the release said.

According to a news release, the DPS discourages travel to Mexico during spring break and beyond, due to cartel violence and other criminal activity in the country. Texans who do travel to Mexico should carefully research their destination, the release said.

In October, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory for Mexico with specific information about certain cities and regions that officials recommend avoiding. Officials encourage people to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate before traveling to Mexico.