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Tips to travel safely this spring break

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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 4:29 pm

Spring break is here and many people have travel plans. But before you travel make sure you know the rules of the road, because they are different in every state.

“There are a few key rules that differ from Arizona and it can often result in a violation or traffic citation, which is a fast way to spoil a vacation,” said Stephanie Dembowski, a public affairs specialist at AAA Arizona.

For example, using your cell phones while driving. In Arizona, there is no law prohibiting the use of a cell phone while driving, but in a lot of states, like California, it is a primary offense, meaning that you can be pulled over for using a cell phone while driving.

Another difference in traffic laws between states is seat belts.

“Arizona right now does not have a primary seat belt law, it’s a secondary offense,” Dembowski said. “But in most other neighboring states it is a primary offense. If you’re not wearing a seat belt you can absolutely be pulled over just for that reason.”

Dembowski recommends travelers familiarize themselves with the traffic laws of the state to which they are traveling.

AAA has traffic laws for each state on its website for those who want to make sure they won’t get a ticket.

One of the biggest spring break destinations is Mexico. But before traveling south of the border, you will need Mexico auto insurance.

“The Unites States auto insurance is not recognized in Mexico,” Dembowski said. “If you are pulled over and you can’t provide that proof of Mexico auto insurance you can actually be arrested and detained until you can actually provide proof.”

Mexico auto insurance can be purchased on this side of the border and it’s relatively inexpensive. You can purchase it for however long your trip will last. If you don’t want to purchase it through AAA, Dembowski says to use a company you trust.

“It’s very important to go through a reputable insurance company,” Dembowski said. “You’ll see as you head down to Mexico lots of little stands off the highway offering insurance and you really want to make sure you go through a company that you can trust.”

Travelers should know that the speed limits in Mexico are posted in kilometers and should adjust accordingly to avoid any run-ins with police.

Travelers heading to Mexico should also be aware that the State Department has issued a travel advisory for Sonora, where popular destination Rocky Point is located. But as long as you stay with your group, cross at the recommended border crossings, and just exercise caution Dembowski says you shouldn’t run into any problems.

“You want to keep your wits about you when you’re on vacation,” Dembowski said. “It’s easy to slip into that carefree mode.”

For more safety and travel tips, visit

• Brittany Stehmer is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.

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