With the holidays upon us, we can count on great food, good times with family and friends, and heavy traffic. In fact, AAA projected that this Thanksgiving would bring some of the heaviest traffic since 2005, and that unfortunately means more auto accidents in San Antonio and all around Texas.Holidays at the end of this year will probably keep the streets busy, too. Don’t ruin your vacation with a tragedy this season! Here are some things to keep in mind to keep you safe as you travel this Christmas season:
Safety Tips for Texas Drivers
- Remember to maintain your vehicle. Old windshield wipers can reduce visibility in rain or snow. Worn out tires and brakes can make it harder to stop quickly. Texas law says that when there is a rear-end collision, the car that does not stop is usually responsible.
- Check your vehicle inspection sticker, headlights, and taillights. In Texas, a police officer is authorized to pull you over if you have an expired sticker or a burned-out lightbulb. You could even receive a fine for overlooking those simple items.
- Make sure your proof of liability insurance is available. If you don’t have it when you’re pulled over or get in an accident, you could be given a fine. Texas law now allows you to show proof of liability insurance using your cell phone, but police officers generally prefer the paper version.
- Use the left lane of a highway only to pass. In Texas, you can get a fine for blocking traffic in the left lane. It is also dangerous for other drivers and slows down traffic for everyone.
- Don’t text and drive! It’s always been a bad idea, but in September it became illegal across all of Texas. Making Instagram posts, Facebook messages, or emails is also prohibited. Using your phone’s GPS or a music app is permitted on the state level, but your city may have more restrictive ordinances.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
- Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way at crosswalks, but you are still responsible for being aware of your surroundings. For instance, pedestrians are not permitted to enter a crosswalk if a vehicle would be unable to yield in time, or when the hand signal is flashing or solid.
- Avoid using your cell phone while walking, especially near traffic. Researchers at Texas A&M found that distracted pedestrians are less predictable, move slower, and walk more from side to side. If your distraction causes an accident, you may be held responsible for the resulting damages.
- Make yourself visible. It can be very difficult for drivers to see pedestrians in dark clothing at night. If you know you’ll be close to traffic at night, be proactive and wear light-colored or reflective clothing to help drivers see you.
- Stay aware of bike lanes and bicyclists. Bicycles tend to be much quieter than cars, but stepping in front of one could cause you and the bicyclist serious injury. If you weren’t paying attention, you may be found responsible for an accident.
Texas is bigger and better than ever, and that means more neighbors sharing our roads and sidewalks. Let’s make all of our holiday season travels the best they can be by staying focused, friendly, and aware.