By CHRIS AGEE
The Texas Department of Public Safety recently announced an increased presence on roads across the state to combat drunk driving throughout the rest of the year.
According to information on the agency’s website, the increased patrols will last until Jan. 1 and troopers will be focusing on “high-risk locations” during times when alcohol-related crashes are most prevalent.
Funded through a Texas Department of Transportation grant, the added DPS presence will target intoxicated drivers and other unsafe road users.
DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a press release, “Drinking and driving are always a concern during holidays and there is no doubt that increased enforcement by DPS and other law enforcement will help save lives.”
During a similar effort last year, DPS reported troopers statewide made more than 1,100 arrests for driving while intoxicated and attributes at least 350 of those arrests directly to enhanced patrols.
McCraw said residents “must also do their part to help make sure all travelers on our roads have a safe and happy holiday season,” urging those celebrating New Year’s to choose a “non-drinking driver or find alternative transportation if you plan to drink and never get in a car with an intoxicated driver.
In addition to targeting drunk drivers, DPS also released a list of tips for safe holiday travel.
Authorities encourage drivers – especially in heavy traffic, unfamiliar areas, construction zones and bad weather conditions – to drive slower and eliminate distractions such as texting.
Defensive driving is also important, the DPS release explained, advising holiday travel can present unique challenges. Drivers should always be well rested, allowing ample time to reach their destination, and everyone in vehicles must wear safety belts.
According to authorities, drivers should make sure their vehicle is properly maintained before any trip and should be especially observant of emergency vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road.
The agency explained state law dictates drivers must slow down or move over for stopped vehicles with emergency lights activated.
In addition to DWI arrests, DPS issued more than 15,000 speeding citations, 2,000 seat belt and child safety seat citations and 18,000 additional citations during last year’s increased patrol.
Troopers also made 1,020 fugitive arrests and 623 felony arrests during the same period.