Travel Tips

August 19, 2020

Travel Information
Travelers may call 1-800-452-9292 daily for travel information, professional trip planning assistance and emergency road condition information.

Highway Conditions
See what's happening on the roadways around the state. Highway Conditions information is provided by TxDOT districts to alert travelers about current roadway conditions.

Motorists Helpline
The Motorists Helpline was designed to assist motorists in various times of need.
Call toll free 1-800-525-5555 if:

  • Your vehicle is disabled or you are stranded on the side of the road.
  • You want to report a drunk driver.

Rest Areas
Texas has an abundance of rest stops for motorists to take advantage of, while traveling through our great state. Many of these facilities have amenities like restrooms, vending machines, phones, playscapes, and much more. Take advantage of these resources, the next time you plan your road trip.

Travel Tips
These travel tips were designed by the Texas Department of Public Safety to assist the motorists who travel the highways. when traveling, motorists should take steps to protect themselves and their vehicles. To reduce the risk of personal injury and theft, the DPS offers the following tips:

Preventative Maintenance

The best way to avoid problems is to try to prevent them from happening. Make sure you check:

  • All Fluids.
  • Proper condition and air pressure of tires, including spare.
  • Windshield wipers.
  • Gas - keep it at least half full.
  • Tell a friend or family member what route you are taking and when you expect to arrive.
  • Have periodic mechanical check-ups at your local service station or automobile dealer.

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Tips for Getting To and From your Vehicle Safely

  • Have your keys in your hands as you approach your vehicle. You're most vulnerable when you are getting into the vehicle, even if you left the vehicle unlocked.
  • Check the passenger compartment before getting into the vehicle, even if you left the vehicle locked.
  • Lock all doors and roll up windows when driving.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • Always park in a central, well-lit place where there are attendants on duty.
  • If you notice someone loitering near your vehicle, do not go near it but seek help or wait until they leave.

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What to do if your vehicle breaks down.

  • Stay calm.
  • Park as far off the traveled portion of the highway as possible.
  • Make your vehicle visible - turn on your flashers.
  • Exit the vehicle from the passenger's side, away from traffic.
  • Open the vehicle's hood and leave it open.
  • Tie a light colored cloth to the antennae or door handle.
  • If possible, stay with the vehicle until uniformed law enforcement arrives, especially at night or during bad weather.
  • Place a "Send Help" sign in a window so it is visible to other motorists.
  • If someone stops to help, keep your doors locked, crack a window, and ask them to call law enforcement for help.
  • If you decide you must walk, write down:
    • Your name.
    • The date.
    • The time you left.
    • The direction you are going.
    • The plate number of the vehicle you are riding in.
    • Description of the vehicle.
    • Name and description of the person you are riding with.
  • Notify law enforcement of the location and circumstances in which you left your vehicle.

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What is Carjacking?

Carjacking is the taking by force of someone's vehicle. It may be done at gunpoint and may involve a physical assault.

  • Always be familiar with your surroundings. (Know what is going on around you)
  • Before getting to your vehicle, have your keys out and get into your vehicle quickly.
  • Lock all doors and keep your windows rolled up.
  • Conceal all valuables. Keep them under the seat or locked in the trunk.
  • When you are stopped at a red light or stop sign, leave room to maneuver around the vehicle in front of you.
  • If someone tries to enter your vehicle at a red light or stop sign, drive through the intersection (safely).
  • Use interstates or toll ways when traveling through cities. Stay out of high crime areas.
  • If you need to stop for gas or use a phone, choose a well-lit, busy facility.
  • If you are followed into your driveway, stay in your vehicle until you can identify the other driver. If you need to, sound the horn in short steady blasts to get the attention of others.
  • If someone bumps into the rear of your car at an intersection or when traveling at slow speeds, do not get out, but motion for the driver to follow you to the nearest police station, fire station, or other busy, well-lit facility.
  • Most important, if there is no escape, your life is more valuable than your money or your car.

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Guidelines for Drivers During a Traffic Stop

In the event of a traffic stop in Texas, the following information and guidelines are provided to motorists. The information below is also found in the Texas Driver Handbook.

When Stopped by Law Enforcement
If you are stopped by law enforcement it is suggested you:

  1. Slow down and move the vehicle safely to the right of the road.
  2. Park your vehicle as far to the right of the main traffic lane as possible. If available, park on the right shoulder or, if unavailable, park on a nearby well-lighted side street or parking lot away from high volume traffic.
  3. Place the vehicle in a parking position, set the emergency brake, turn the engine off, and activate the hazard warning lights.
  4. If at night, turn on the interior dome light.
  5. Remain in the car, lower the driver's window if you feel safe to do so. Keep both hands clearly in sight on the steering wheel.
  6. Wait for the law enforcement officer to give you instructions. An officer may approach from either side of the vehicle.
  7. Before reaching into your glove box or under the seat to retrieve your proof of insurance or driver's license, inform the officer of where the items are located and follow the officer's directions.
  8. If asked to exit the vehicle, check for passing vehicles to exit safely.
  9. Advise passengers to remain in the car unless other instructions are given by the law enforcement officer.
  10. At the conclusion of the traffic stop, give the appropriate signals and safely return to the proper lane of traffic when released by the law enforcement officer.

DPS 7-Step Violator Interview

To ensure motorists know what to expect during a traffic stop, the following information is provided.

In the event of a traffic stop, Texas Highway Patrol Troopers are trained to follow a series of procedural steps, called the 7-Step Violator Interview.

The 7-Step Violator Interview is listed below and also in the department's policy:

Troopers will follow the seven-step violator interview unless circumstances exist that make the use extraneous or non-applicable

The steps will be used in the following order:

  1. Greeting and identification of the agency
  2. Statement of violation committed
  3. Identification of driver and check of conditions of violator and vehicle
  4. Statement of action to be taken
  5. Take action stated
  6. Explain what violator must do
  7. Leave

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Obligations, Responsibilities, Courtesy and Safety
State law requires a driver to immediately stop when approached by an authorized emergency vehicle and you may be arrested if you do not stop immediately. If you feel the area is unsafe to stop immediately or if you have concerns the vehicle is not a real police vehicle, you can take the following steps to minimize the risk of being arrested or charges being filed against you: turn on your hazard lights and drive slowly and carefully below the posted speed limit; you may call 9-1-1 and remain on the phone with the operator while you stop and verify the officer's identity and you may drive to a nearby well-lighted, populated place to stop. It is important to understand that law enforcement jurisdictions overlap and a local 9-1-1 call center operator may not be able to immediately determine what officer is working in that area at that time. If you stop in an unsafe location, such as on a bridge or a high traffic roadway, an officer may direct you over the public address speaker to move to a safer location. Follow the officer's directions.

Law enforcement officers, drivers, and passengers should respond with courtesy during traffic stops and other officer/citizen interactions. Drivers and passengers should not exit the vehicle unless asked to do so. Exiting your vehicle may be perceived as aggressive behavior and a threat to the officer's safety. Drivers and passengers inside a vehicle should not attempt to reach, dig, or search for their license or insurance documents before or while an officer is approaching. Drivers who transport handguns in their vehicles are encouraged to keep them in a separate location from license and insurance documentation. During a traffic stop, the driver and any passengers are subjected to an investigative detention, which may only last for a reasonable amount of time. Passengers can ask the officer if they are free to leave and do so if the officer agrees. Law enforcement may ask questions during this time. You cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions; however, drivers are required by law to display a driver license when requested by an officer. If you are lawfully detained or arrested, you are also required to give your name, residence address, and date of birth. A driver or a passenger who gives law enforcement a false or fraudulent identity or false answers may be arrested. It may be to your benefit to speak to law enforcement, such as to convey the reason you may have an emergency or for the driver to provide the officer your name address and date of birth if you do not have your driver license with you.

Law enforcement may also ask for consent to search your vehicle or person. You may grant or deny the request to search; however, if an officer has probable cause to believe that your vehicle contains evidence of a crime, it can be searched without your consent. If an officer reasonably believes that you have a weapon, the officer can conduct a pat down search of your person and the immediate area around you, including areas of your vehicle. It is unlawful to physically resist a search, but you have the right to notify the officer that you do not consent to any search.

Complaints or Concerns
If you believe an officer has acted inappropriately during a traffic stop or other encounter, you should report that conduct to the officer's superiors and follow agency guidelines for submitting complaints against officers as soon as possible. Officers will normally provide their names and badge numbers on request, when practical. Due to the overlapping of jurisdictions, drivers should make sure they identify the correct agency as well as any identifying aspects of the officer and law enforcement vehicle.

Drivers should refrain from arguing the validity of a charge during the traffic stop or detention. Signing a citation is not admitting guilt. It simply confirms your promise to pay the fine or contact the court. If you do not agree with the charge brought against you and wish to contest it, you should argue your case before a judge or request a jury trial and acquire the services of an attorney to represent you.

More Information on How to File a Complaint.

Read the complete Texas Driver Handbook.

Please drive safely, Texas!

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Stranded/Disabled Motorist's Helpline Call 1-800-525-5555