When you get behind the wheel in Texas, you are agreeing to follow all the traffic laws and rules of the road Texas lawmakers have passed. Drivers who choose to ignore these traffic laws in Texas and rule not only put themselves at risk but also everyone else on the road.
Thomas J. Henry Law would like to offer this quick refresher on some of the most important Texas driving rules. By making these rules consistent habits, you can help ensure your safety as well as the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists.
The 11 Most Important Rules About Driving and of the Road
We are all introduced to basic driving safety during driver’s ed. Upon passing the driver exam, you demonstrated at least a working understanding of how to drive in Texas. Over time, however, it is easy to forget some of the Texas traffic rules you learned in driving school. It is also easy to pick up some bad habits.
Are you still following Texas’s most important driver rules? Check the list below and see.
- Check all of your surroundings when reversing
- Slow traffic keeps right, the left lane is for passing
- Keep a safe following distance
- Always yield to pedestrians
- Use your signals when turning or changing lanes
- Adhere to school bus stop signs, regardless of the direction you are
- Move over for emergency vehicles
- Avoid all driver distractions
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Do not exceed the speed limit
- Stay to the right of the centerline
Check All of Your Surroundings When Reversing
While backup cameras are a great tool, they are limited in what they allow the driver to observe. As such, drivers should not rely on backup cameras alone when reversing.
Before backing up, you should check all of your surroundings. Use your mirrors and windows to check your left and right sides as well as potential blind spots.
Our world is in constant motion. Just because you do not see something directly behind you when checking your backup camera, that does not mean a pedestrian, bicyclist, or another vehicle will not cross your path as you reverse.
By observing your surroundings, you can identify people and objects before they get behind your car and plan accordingly.
Slow Traffic Keeps Right, The Left Lane Is for Passing
On Texas roadways, the rightmost lane is reserved for slower-moving traffic while the left lane is for faster driving (within the posted speed limit). This helps ease traffic congestion and allows for safer travel.
When presented with three or more lanes, move to the right lane if you are traveling at a slower speed than those around you. If you feel you moving with the flow of traffic, utilize the center lane or lanes. Leave the left lane for passing only.
If you are driving on a Texas interstate, keep to the right unless passing. This is clearly posted on road signs throughout the state. After passing, move back to the right lane.
Keep a Safe Following Distance
When driving, be sure to follow the 3-second rule for following distance. This means there should be about 3 seconds worth of travel between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. The 3-second rule is meant to provide you time to react to sudden changes in the flow of traffic.
Distance should be increased when dealing with adverse weather conditions or low visibility. It is also good to increase following distance if you see congested traffic ahead of you.
Right of Way Rules in Texas: Always Yield to Pedestrians
Texas traffic law states drivers must yield to pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks on the same half of roadway as the vehicle or approaching that half from the opposite side of traffic. Unfortunately, Texas drivers frequently ignore when pedestrians have the right of way.
When you see a pedestrian at a crossing, check and make sure they are not about to cross the street. If they are, you are expected to come to a stop and let them safely pass.
Use Your Signals When Turning or Changing Lanes
Let’s be honest, turning on your blinker is literally as easy as lifting a finger. Still, it is very common for Texas drivers to make lane changes and turns without signaling.
Blinkers help to indicate your intentions to the motorists around you. It catches their attention reducing the risk of your lane change or turn resulting in a crash. It is also respectful as it allows other drivers to plan for your maneuver.
Adhere to School Bus Stop Signs
When a bus comes to a stop and extends its stop sign, it is illegal to pass or overtake it. This is true whether you are behind the bus or approaching from the opposite direction. Stop a safe distance from the bus and wait until the stop sign is retracted, the bus’s flashing red lights are off, and the bus is back in motion.
Running by a stopped school bus puts children at unnecessary risk. It is also a quick way to catch a citation or worse as most school buses are equipped with cameras that can record reckless drivers.
Move Over for Emergency Vehicles
When an emergency vehicle has its flashing lights or sirens on, you must pull your vehicle to the side of the road.
No matter where you are heading, it is unlikely your trip is as urgent as an ambulance, firetruck, or police cruiser responding to an emergency. Take a few seconds to get out of the way and provide a clear path for the emergency vehicle to pass.
Failing to adhere to Texas traffic laws regarding emergency vehicles can result in hefty fines and even incarceration for repeat offenders.
Avoid ALL Driver Distractions
Distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents in Texas. One important thing to remember is that your cell phone is not the only potential distraction. Other common distractions include:
- Adjusting the radio
- Interacting with GPS
- Eating food
- Applying makeup
- Talking to passenger
When driving, do not let any distraction cause you to remove your hands from the wheel or your attention from the road. Remain vigilant and focused on the task at hand.
Always Wear Your Seatbelt
One of the easiest Texas traffic laws to follow is also one that will save your life. Always wear your seatbelt when traveling, whether you are driving or are a passenger.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seatbelts save nearly 15,000 lives every year. When used by drivers and front-seat passengers, seatbelts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%.
Obey the Posted Speed Limit, Reduce Speed When Necessary
You should always obey the posted speed limit. It is the law and has been determined that it is the safest maximum speed to travel on a particular roadway. It is also important to remember that posted speed limits are based on ideal road and weather conditions.
In the event of bad weather or hazardous road conditions, you are required to reduce your speed. In fact, Texas is one of many states that has a “Basic Speed Law.” This law states drivers must never exceed a safe speed limit based on current roadway and weather conditions. This means drivers can be cited for speeding even if they are traveling at or beneath the posted speed limit.
Do Not Cross the Centerline
Motorists should always stay to the right of the “centerline” that separates opposing lanes of traffic. You may only cross the centerline if:
- Traffic signs indicate you may use a lane to the left of the centerline (i.e., a center turning lane)
- You must cross in order to avoid an obstruction in the road
- You must cross the centerline in order to complete a left turn into or out of a road, alley, or driveway.
Speak with an Experienced Texas Car Accident Attorney
When drivers choose to ignore Texas driving rules, they put everyone on the road at risk. If you were struck by a driver who was ignoring the rules of the road in Texas, call Thomas J. Henry Law. We have represented clients injured in car crashes for nearly 30 years. It is our goal to ensure responsible drivers are compensated for the damages negligent drivers cause and to make sure negligent drivers are held responsible for their actions.
Do not wait. Call now for your FREE Case Review with an experienced Texas car accident attorney. Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.