Those planning to drink this holiday season still have plenty of time to figure out who to recruit as a responsible designated driver.

The Texas Department of Public Safety issued a news release earlier this week warning Texans there will be an increase of troopers on the road through Jan. 1.

Additional trooper coverage is funded through a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation. The grant is used to pay additional troopers for coverage in areas where alcohol-related accidents are more likely to occur over various holidays throughout the year.

All available troopers will be out over the Christmas and New Year’s weekend as part of Operation Holiday.

Senior trooper Dub Gillum with the Texas Highway Patrol said there is no definitive answer to how many troopers will be out at a given time.

He said troopers out during the next two weeks will include Highway Patrol, Safety Education and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Driver License Troopers.

“We’ll have troopers out looking for a variety of other traffic infractions,” said DPS Assistant Chief of Public Affairs Tom Vinger. “Speeders, seat belt violations, etcetera.”

According to the Associated Press, more than 5.7 million Texans plan to travel during the holidays, with 6.9 million of those driving. That is a 3 percent increase from last year.

Those traveling by car are expected to travel more than 50 miles away from home.

“The increased enforcement on holiday weekends is not a myth,” Vinger warned. “DPS shows that we arrest more drunk drivers and issue more traffic violations during holiday weekends.”

Last year’s holiday violation numbers back that up.

During the holiday season last year, troopers made 1,264 drunken driving arrests. Troopers whose patrols were funded through the TxDOT grant made 449 of those arrests. There were 17,436 speeding citations, 2,426 safety restraint citations and 2,594 no insurance citations.

Troopers will also be on the lookout for fugitives and stolen vehicles.

In 2010, troopers made 1,284 felony and fugitive arrests and recovered 50 stolen vehicles.

According to the AP, the average person is expected to make an 800-mile round trip this year, which leaves plenty of room for a lapse in judgement or a too-long glance at a cellphone.

“We want everyone’s holiday to end as well as it starts,” said Assistant Director Luis Gonzalez, chief of the Texas Highway Patrol Division in a DPS news realease. “Please drive safely, and if you’re going to drink, designate a driver.”

The AAA reports that this year’s traffic volume is the second highest of the past decade, so it’s important to be alert, stay alert and not let distractions take your eyes off the road.

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