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Posted on: November 15, 2023

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

Maryland Travel Safety Week

During Maryland Travel Safety Week (Nov. 13th – 19th), Mayor Craig A. Moe and the Department of Community Resources and Emergency Management (CREM) are aware that this holiday season will be busier than ever, so they urge all residents to be cautious and prepared so you can have a safe holiday season.

Residents who are planning on traveling for the holidays should be well versed in what the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) recommends for safe travel:

“MDEM has designated November 13-19, 2023, as Maryland Travel Safety Week in preparation for the beginning of holiday travel to encourage safe travel all year on all modes of transportation.

MDEM encourages travelers to learn about safe travel practices whether using roads, air, or rail, and as pedestrians and bike riders. You should also be aware of safety at various types of lodgings and gatherings.

MDEM encourages Marylanders to review some of these simple practices recommended by safety specialists covering a variety of transportation methods.

Know Before You Go - Head out for travel informed and prepared so you know the travel conditions while enroute to your destination. Check on road and traffic conditions along your route; check for last-minute delays or cancellations before heading to the airport or train station; and always check local weather forecasts to make sure you pack appropriate clothing and prepare for potential travel delays.

If You See Something, Say Something - If you see a suspicious activity, device or package, or overhear a suspicious conversation, report it immediately to a facility manager, carrier employee, or law enforcement. If you see accidents or hazards along the roadway or hiking/biking trails, make sure to alert local law enforcement, highway officials, or park employees so they can respond.

Safety Tips when Traveling by Motor Vehicle

Over the last few years, the State’s “Move Over Law” has been expanded to require motorists to make a lane change or slow down when approaching ANY stopped, standing, or parked vehicle displaying warning signals – including hazard warning lights, road flares, and other caution signals including, traffic cones, caution signs, and non-vehicular warning signs.

Other tips for drivers include:

  • Allow extra time for travel due to increased traffic and congestion.
  • Stay alert and give driving your full attention.
  • Show courtesy to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
  • Drive defensively and carefully (not aggressively).
  • Comply with traffic laws and heed all traffic signs, signals, and markings.
  • Make sure all passengers are using seat belts and car seats properly.
  • Make sure to have an emergency kit in your car with jumper cables, snacks, bottled water, and seasonally appropriate items like blankets, sand, or cat litter.
  • Be especially careful in work zones.
  • Wear U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmets and eye protection when driving or riding on a motorcycle. Check the regulations where you will be traveling. Though these mandates vary by state, it is recommended to always wear a helmet and eye protection for your safety.

Other information for safe travel on the roads is available from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration or AAA Mid-Atlantic. For information about safety on Maryland toll roads, bridges, and tunnels, please visit the Maryland Transportation Authority. MDOT SHA also has motorcycle safety tips. For safety tips related to large commercial vehicles and intercity (non-transit) buses, please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Safety Tips when Traveling by Taxi or Rideshare

  • Ask ahead for the typical price and tipping range.
  • Call for a taxi instead of hailing one.
  • Make sure you verify the correct driver before getting into the car, if using a shared ride service like Uber or Lyft, by asking what their name is (don’t ask “Is your name so and so”).
  • Look for a meter, a radio, a badge, a photo ID, and a door handle.
  • Sit in the back seat – not in the passenger seat.
  • Keep expensive items hidden and keep your belongings close.

Here are taxi safety tips from the Travel Insurance Review and a link to the taxi riders Consumer Bill of Rights from the Maryland Public Safety Commission. HG.org Legal Resources offers these tips for those using rideshare services, which often are not regulated in the same way as taxi services.

Safety Tips when Traveling by Air

  • Be on time, allow time to get through the security checkpoint, and build in time for possible schedule changes.
  • Stay alert and watch your bags and belongings at all times.
  • Let ONLY uniformed airline personnel handle your bags.
  • Check with the information desks or airport/airline employees if you need help navigating the airport.
  • Be aware of what can and cannot be carried with your carry-on bags and luggage.

Other information for safe air travel can be found at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and the Transportation Security Administration.

Safety Tips when Traveling by Railroad

  • Stay alert and watch your bags and belongings at all times.
  • Watch your step when boarding and leaving the train and moving from car to car.
  • Board and exit a train only when it’s NOT moving.
  • Make sure you familiarize yourself with the safety card found in most seatbacks.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your train is due to depart. Some stations require additional time.
  • Report any suspicious behavior to police, station personnel, Amtrak Police, or by calling 1-800-331-0008.

More information about intercity rail travel safety can be found from Amtrak, and the Federal Railroad Administration has information for motorists and pedestrians at railroad crossings.

Safety Tips when Using Public Transportation (Bus, Subway, Light Rail, Commuter Rail)

  • Check schedules ahead of time and leave sufficient time to make appropriate connections.
  • Download apps that allow you to check arrival times and pay fares.
  • Keep jewelry and other valuables out of sight at all times. If your pocket is picked, yell out immediately to warn others; don’t be afraid to shout. Tell the train or bus operator and request the police.
  • Pay particular attention to your electronics, such as cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers.
  • Use caution when on rail platforms and at bus drop-offs, especially when surfaces are wet or icy.

Here are some safety tips from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration, which operates Metro bus and rail service in the Washington, D.C. area. Here are anti-theft tips from the Maryland Transit Administration, which operates bus, subway, and light rail service in the Baltimore metro area.

Safety Tips for Lodging Facilities (Hotels, Motels, Resorts, Short-term, and Vacation Rentals)

  • Stay in facilities that have hard-wired smoke alarms and an automatic fire sprinkler system in each guest room.
  • Read the fire evacuation plan carefully.
  • Find the two closest exits from your room.
  • Count the number of doors between your room and the exits; this will assist you if you need to evacuate in the dark.
  • Find the fire alarms on your floor.
  • Make sure if the rental is a vacation or private home, the facility has deadbolt locks on all doors and locking windows and has appropriate fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Make sure if a vacation or private home rental has a swimming pool, someone is observing all swimmers, and that proper safety equipment is available.
  • Know the cancellation policy when making a reservation.

You can find additional safety tips for travelers staying at vacation and private home rentals from iPropertyManagement. You can find more hotel/motel safety tips from SmarterTravel.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
  • Stop at curbs and look left, right, and left again always before crossing a street and watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
  • Wear light or bright-colored clothing or reflective items, especially before sunrise and after sunset.
  • Pay attention and take off headphones while walking – no texting or playing games.

The MDOT State Highway Administration has more safety tips for pedestrians, as does the Federal Highway Administration.

Safety Tips for Those Using Bicycles

  • Stop at all red lights and stop signs.
  • Ride defensively – expect the unexpected.
  • Ride with traffic, never against it.
  • Use hand signals when turning or stopping.
  • Stay visible when riding at night and during inclement weather.
  • Wear a helmet correctly.

MDOT State Highway Administration has additional bicycle safety tips, as does the Federal Highway Administration.

Safety Tips for Traveling on the Water

Whether piloting your own recreational boat or traveling on a passenger vessel (cruise ship or ferry), here are some important safety tips:

  • Check weather forecasts for approaching fronts or storm watches. By the time a storm or gale warning is issued, it might be too late to get to a safe harbor.
  • Refuse passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seatbacks, or other spots where they might fall overboard.
  • Wear your engine cut-off switch lanyard and your life jacket at all times. If the lanyard is removed from the switch, the engine will not shut off.
  • Wear a United States Coast Guard-approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on a recreational vessel under 21 feet in length if under age 13; this is a law.
  • Wear an approved PFD at all times, for maximum safety, when on recreational boats. This applies to all persons, no matter how good of swimmers they are.
  • Follow all safety directions, read prepared safety material, and participate in all life safety drills on passenger vessels.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has specific information for recreational boats traveling in Maryland waters, including kayaks and rowboats. The United States Coast Guard also has boater safety information. The Maryland Port Administration has information for people traveling out of the Baltimore cruise ship terminal. The Cruise Critic also has some tips for traveling safely on cruise ships.”

For more information, please contact CREM Director Chrissy Cornwell at ccornwell@laurel.md.us or call her at 301-725-5300.

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