Whether you’re taking a long road trip or just heading to the local lake or state park, hitting the highway is almost a certainty during the summer months.

TYLER, Texas—

Whether you’re taking a long road trip or just heading to the local lake or state park, hitting the highway is almost a certainty during the summer months.

With so many vehicles on the road, the Texas Department of Transportation is asking drivers to stay alert when getting behind the wheel.

“‘Be careful. Drive smart.’ is really about reminding people, when they’re behind the wheel, to do what their job is, to drive,” said TxDOT spokesperson Diann Hodges.

TxDOT alerts motorists to a few tips to ensure the safest possible environment when driving on the roads:

  • Never drink alcohol or take sedatives before driving;
  • Get enough rest before your trip;
  • Schedule breaks every two hours or 100 miles and rest for 15-20 minutes at each stop;
  • Avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m.;
  • Take advantage of the state’s rest stops and travel information centers; and
  • For longer journeys, travel with a companion who can help you stay alert and share the driving.

TxDOT also reminds drivers of the “Move On, Slow Down” law.

“If there are lights on the vehicle by law, you have to move,” Hodges said. “Get out of the lane that’s right next to them or you’ll have to slow down. A minor accident can turn into a death very quickly.”

The law requires drivers to move into a lane or slow down when they see first responders, a tow truck, or TxDOT vehicles on the side of the road. Failure to do so may result in a $200 fine.

Here are some other safe driving tips:

  • Always obey posted speed limits and drive at a safe speed for traffic, road and weather conditions;
  • Use extreme caution when driving in road construction or maintenance areas;
  • When approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, tow truck, or TxDOT vehicle with flashing amber or blue lights on the side of the road, move into one lane;
  • If unable to move, slow to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit when approaching a stopped vehicle;
  • Keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you;
  • Drive with your lights on to be more visible to oncoming vehicles;
  • Watch for motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians;
  • Plan ahead to allow time for delays. Traffic jams can be a problem almost anywhere;
  • Do not tailgate or flash your headlights at another driver;
  • Don’t forget that the left lane is reserved for overtaking. If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass you, move over and let the driver pass;
  • Keep your emotions under control and focus on your own conduct; and
  • If you encounter an aggressive driver, don’t engage. Give angry drivers enough space, avoid eye contact, and if you fear for your safety, call 9-1-1.
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