Hitting the road in Texas can be an adventure, but don’t forget that the Lone Star State has some peculiar road regulations you may not be familiar with, particularly if you’re not a local. So before you rev up your engine, let’s dive into some of Texas’ lesser-known traffic laws.
Basic Lonestar Driving Laws
These crucial rules aim to ensure both your safety and that of your fellow Texas drivers.
Buckle up or pay up: Both drivers and passengers must wear seat belts – no exceptions. Should a passenger below 17 years go unbuckled, the driver will be held accountable and could face fines ranging from $25 to $250.
No texting allowed: As of 2017, texting while driving is illegal, as is using email, WhatsApp, Facebook, or any other social media apps. To be safe, save those chats for later. Texting at the wheel increases your chances of causing an accident by 23 times. If caught using your phone while driving, you risk serious fines and even jail time if there’s a fatal accident. Be sure to check local cellphone use ordinances since many impose stricter regulations.
Laws Just for Us Texans
Some of these Texas rules are rather practical while others might baffle you.
Key reminder: Leaving your key in the ignition of an unattended car? That’s illegal and could result in a $500 fine.
Overtaking on the side: Unlike most states, Texas permits passing a stopped vehicle on the shoulder.
Bumper attachments: If something protrudes from your bumper, make sure it’s secured with a chain.
Wiper necessities: Always have functioning windshield wipers. Oddly enough, there’s no requirement for an actual windshield.
Window Tint Laws
Be aware that each Texas county has its law regarding window tints. However, there are state-wide rules that apply to everyone:
- Front windshields and windows need a minimum 25% visible light transmission (VLT).
- Windshield tint must not extend lower than 5 inches from the top.
- Rear windows and windshields have no regulations if you have external side mirrors. Otherwise, they require a minimum 25% VLT.
Some “Interesting” Local Laws
These should give you a laugh, or just make you scratch your head.
San Antonio: opening your vehicle doors while it’s in use – even when stopped – is prohibited.
Denton & Fort Worth: It is against the law to park your vehicle and not use the parking brake.
Lubbock: Think twice before letting your tipsy buddy ride shotgun, because it’s against the law to drive within arm’s length of alcohol – even if it’s already been consumed.
Texarkana: If you’re riding a horse at night, make sure it has a taillight.
Richardson: If you ever miss a turn, brace yourself for a detour – because U-turns are illegal.
Lastly, enjoy the air!: In Texas you aren’t required to have a windshield – but you are required to have windshield wipers.
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