Review this checklist before you hit the road Memorial Day weekend

 

An estimated 2.8 million Texans are expected to be on the roads this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA Texas. The group anticipates that more than 330,000 drivers will require a roadside rescue – at least 21,500 in Texas alone – AAA Texas spokeswoman Anne O’Ryan said.

So here are some safety steps that O’Ryan says motorists should take if they’re getting on the road this weekend:

  • Have your car battery tested.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Get plenty of sleep — at least seven hours — so you can stay alert. Drowsy driving accounts for about 20 percent of all crashes, O’Ryan said.
  • “Pack your patience,” O’Ryan said, and drive defensively.
  • Build in extra time for travel.
  • The best times to travel will be early morning, as other times will be more crowded.
  • Take breaks every two hours or every 100 miles.
  • Keep your eyes open for other drivers making sudden lane changes because a lot of out-of-towners and tentative drivers will be on the road.
  • Watch out for motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Don’t text and drive or hold your cell phone.
  • Put your pets on a leash or a cage, and not in the front seat.
  • Wear your seat belt
  • Never drive impaired.

Austin police said officers will be targeting impaired and distracted drivers during the holiday weekend. Under its no-refusal initiative, Austin police will make it harder for a driver suspected of driving while intoxicated to refuse providing a breath or blood sample. If the officer has evidence of impairment, police said, the officer can get a judge’s approval for a search warrant to obtain a blood sample.

The no-refusal effort will be in effect from Friday through June 12 – to include the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally – between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Police said 107 people were arrested last year during the no-refusal period for Memorial Day and ROT Rally.

Interim Austin police Chief Brian Manley recommends that if you do plan to drink, you should have a plan for a ride home. He said the Austin Transportation Department has provided a website, austintexas.gov/gethomesafe, with resources to help you get home safe, including links to Capital Metro services and designated driving programs.

The Williamson County sheriff’s office will be undertaking its own no-refusal initiative, starting Friday and ending Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. each night.

In Hays County, San Marcos police will run its no-refusal program from Friday through Sunday.

 

A Festivus for the rest of us: Our Austin grievances of 2016

American-Statesman photos
American-Statesman photos

It’s Dec. 23, and in the time-honored tradition of Festivus, we’ve polled the Statesman newsroom to air some 2016 grievances (we’ll get to the feats of strength later).

We’ve got a lot of problems with you, Austin, and now you’re gonna hear about it.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. And hey, remember that it wasn’t all bad: Here are 12 feel-good stories that prove some positivity came out of 2016.

festivus

Is it legal to go topless in Austin?

Sunday is National Go Topless Day. What, your calendar wasn’t already marked?

According to GoTopless.org, the website of an organization dedicated to something that we shouldn’t need to explain, Go Topless Day “always falls at the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day, Aug 26. It is indeed on Aug 26, 1920 that women earned their right to vote on the basis of Gender Equality.” The organization says that “the right to go topless for women is based on gender equality as their right to vote once was.”

22 AUGUST 2010- Topless women pose for pictures holding signs after a march and Go Topless protest held in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, August 22, 2010. (American-Statesman/Rodolfo Gonzalez) 0905summernews
22 AUGUST 2010- Topless women pose for pictures holding signs after a march and Go Topless protest held in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, August 22, 2010. (American-Statesman/Rodolfo Gonzalez) 0905summernews

A map of the U.S. on the website labels Texas as a “top freedom” state and Austin as a “topless ‘tested'” city. Anyone who’s been around the Live Music Capital of the World for a significant amount of time knows that, yes, a bare breast isn’t much to bat an eyelash at. Hippie Hollow, Austin’s one and only nude park, is a legendary, clothing-optional swimming spot. But that lakeside locale takes a laissez-faire stance on bottoms, too. Also, there has been more than one protest in Austin over the years that decried Texas gun laws by encouraging open shirts.

We dipped into the Statesman archives to get the skinny on the topless rules for women and nudity in general in Austin.

• In a 2006 column, Statesman answer lady Jane Grieg told an unwilling peeping Tom with immodest neighbors that such behavior is not illegal. “There is no ordinance against appearing in various stages of undress or topless at a bay window or anywhere else in Austin,” Greig wrote. “State law prohibits reckless exposure of other bodily areas (e.g., genitalia, but female breasts are not genitalia).” A 2004 article about a naked bike ride points out that Austin “has no local public nudity laws.”

• Is someone wearing body paint nude? A 2013 article about the subject as it relates to adult-oriented businesses didn’t draw a definitive conclusion:

“So would restaurant waitresses wearing only body paint run afoul of Austin’s adult-oriented businesses ordinances? That’s a gray area. ‘The City of Austin has not addressed this type of situation in the past,’ city spokeswoman Samantha Park said in a statement. ‘Every case has different circumstances, so it isn’t appropriate to speculate how we would handle a hypothetical case.'”

• A 2005 Austin Chronicle article provides a little less support for public displays of toplessness: “Public lewdness, which applies when a person intentionally commits an act of sexual contact in a public place, could also come into play if going topless leads to more heated action.” Additionally, the Chronicle pointed out that Texas courts have upheld disorderly conduct convictions for women going sans shirt.

And remember, if you’re planning on feeling your Lady Godiva fantasy this weekend, none of this serves as official legal advice.