(BigCountryHomepage.com) – The start of September marks a lot of different things; the West Texas Fair & Rodeo is making its way to the Big Country, pumpkin flavored coffee and patches are opening soon, and Labor Day weekend festivities are underway to mark the last hurrah of summer. Aside from not being able to wear white after Labor Day, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) released some helpful safety tips to practice this holiday.

The Texas Highway Patrol (THP) announced an increase in enforcement between September 2 and 5. Officers will be looking for drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts, speeders, drunk drivers and drivers who fail to follow Texas’ Move Over, Slow Down law.

According to the Texas DPS, troopers issued more than 52,000 citations and warnings during the Labor Day weekend in 2021. More than 200 DWI arrests were made, and almost 900 tickets for seatbelts.

For a safe Labor Day weekend, follow these tips from Texas DPS:

  • Don’t drink and drive. Make alternate plans if you’re consuming alcohol.
  • Move Over or Slow Down for police, fire, EMS, TxDOT vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. Show the same courtesy to fellow drivers who are stopped on the side of the road.
  • Buckle up everyone in the vehicle — it’s the law.
  • Slow down, especially in bad weather, heavy traffic, unfamiliar areas or construction zones.
  • Eliminate distractions while driving, including the use of mobile devices. Texas law prohibits the use of portable wireless devices to read, write or send an electronic message unless the vehicle is stopped. If you’re using a navigation device or app, have a passenger operate it so you can keep your eyes on the road.
  • Drive defensively, as holiday travel can present additional challenges.
  • Know your route before beginning your trip.
  • Don’t drive fatigued. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Keep the Texas Roadside Assistance number stored in your phone. Dial 1-800-525-5555 for any type of assistance. The number can also be found on the back of a Texas Driver License.
  • On multi-lane roads, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving and avoids impeding traffic, Texas law requires slower traffic to keep to the right and to use the left lane for passing only (when posted).
  • If you can Steer It, Clear It: If you are involved in a non-injury crash and your vehicle can be moved, clear the traffic lanes to minimize traffic impact. Leaving vehicles in a traffic lane increases traffic congestion and leaves those involved with an increased risk of harm of a secondary wreck. On some highways, if you don’t move your vehicle when it’s safe to do so, you’re violating the law.
  • Don’t cut in front of large trucks, and try not to brake quickly in front of them, if possible. They can’t maneuver as easily as passenger vehicles and pickup trucks.
  • Check your vehicle to make sure it’s properly maintained and always ensure your cargo is secure.
  • Report road hazards or anything suspicious to the nearest law enforcement agency.
  • Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you’re traveling. For road conditions and closures in Texas, visit Drive Texas.

Texas DPS announced Operation Care (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) to run alongside the Labor Day Weekend increased patrol efforts. Operation CARE typically increases patrol during holidays throughout the year.

Another program Texas DPS activated is the iWatchTexas program. It’s a resource for reporting suspicious activity in efforts to prevent dangerous attacks. You can download the app on your smartphone, report tips on the website or call (844) 643-2251. All reports are kept confidential.