Driving in Texas is a lot like driving anywhere else in the United States, but there are a few key differences. Whether you’re new to the state or you’ve lived here for years, if it’s been awhile since you read through Texas traffic laws, you should read this guide to get familiar with the rules of the road here in Texas.
Rules for general safety on the road in Texas
If seat-belt anchorages were part of the original design of your vehicle, then seatbelts are required for the driver and all passengers. The exceptions to this rule are generally antique vehicles.
Children who are under 4’9” tall and/or under eight years old must be secured in an appropriate child seat. Children between eight and seventeen must wear safety belts whenever they’re in a moving vehicle.
If you see an emergency vehicle with its flashing lights and siren on, you must yield to it. If it is overtaking you, you should pull over until it is safely passed, and if it is approaching an intersection, do not enter the intersection or otherwise obstruct the way.
If you see a school bus with yellow flashing lights, you should slow down to 20 miles per hour or less. When you see the red flashing lights come on, you should stop, whether you are behind the bus or you are approaching it from the front. Do not pass the bus in either direction until the bus resumes motion, the driver signals you to move, or the driver turns off the red lights and “STOP” signal.
Pedestrians always have the right of way at uncontrolled intersections, (where there are no traffic signals) and when a “WALK” signal is active. If the light changes, pedestrians in the intersection will still have the right of way, so look out for them when entering intersections and making turns.
When you see red flashing traffic lights, you should come to a complete stop and make sure that the way is clear before you continue through the intersection. If the flashing lights are yellow, slow down and proceed with caution.
If you come to an intersection with out of order traffic lights that aren’t flashing at all, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
Texas motorcyclists under the age of 20 must wear a helmet when riding. Adult motorcyclists seeking a license in Texas must first hold a Texas driver’s license or pass an Adult Driver Education course. Getting a motorcycle license in Texas involves a written test on traffic laws for motorcycles and a skills course. The road test may or may not be waived.
Bicyclists in Texas have the same rights as motorists and must follow the same rules. Drivers should give bicyclists three to five feet of space when passing, and should never drive or park in a bicycle lane.
Important laws for safe driving
HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes are reserved for passenger cars, trucks, vans, and buses with two or more occupants. Motorcycles may also travel in these lanes, but single-occupancy hybrid vehicles may not.
Passing on the left is legal in Texas when there is a dashed white or yellow line marking the boundary between lanes. You should never pass across a solid line, and passing is prohibited in areas marked with “No Passing Zone” signs.
You may make a right on red if you have first come to a complete stop and checked for traffic. If the way is clear, you may continue.
U-turns are prohibited at intersections where a “No U-Turns” sign is posted. Otherwise, they are permitted when visibility is good enough and a U-turn can be performed safely.
It is illegal to block intersections in Texas. If you cannot completely clear the intersection, wait until traffic has cleared and you can move all the way through.
At a four-way stop in Texas, you must always come to a complete stop. The first driver to reach the intersection will have the right of way. If multiple drivers reach it at the same time, the drivers to the left will yield to the drivers to their right.
Texas has numerous ramp-metering signals at on-ramps on freeways. Drivers will be warned about these with a “Ramp Metered When Flashing” sign with a flashing yellow light. For each green light on the ramp meter, one vehicle will be permitted to enter the freeway.
Accidents, DUIs, and legal matters for Texas drivers
If you are involved in an accident in Texas, attempt to remove the involved vehicles from the roadway to avoid obstructing traffic. Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident and call the police to file a report. Wait for the police in a safe place.
For adults, driving under the influence (DUI) in Texas is defined as having a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 or higher. Texas also has a zero-tolerance policy for minors, and a minor who tests positive for alcohol will face serious penalties.
Radar detectors are permitted in Texas for personal vehicles.
Texas law requires that all vehicles display valid front and rear license plates.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Rules of the Road For Texas Drivers and was authored by Valerie Johnston.