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Have you ever done something while driving and thought to yourself, “Is this legal?“. You’re not alone. We’ve created a list of driving law myths that may surprise you. Maybe your parents have been wrong all these years about leaving that interior light on while driving. Keep reading to find out the truth about some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding driving laws in Texas.

It’s illegal to drive with headphones: FALSE

While it’s legal for drivers in Texas to use headphones while driving, we don’t recommend it. Noise-canceling headphones don’t allow you to hear sirens or honking that could help prevent you from crashing with a nearby vehicle. There are some exceptions though, anyone under the age of 18 is not allowed to use headphones or any other wireless listening device while driving.

Neon underglow lights are illegal: FALSE

Some car-enthusiasts like to customize their ride with neon underglow lights. While these custom lights are legal in Texas, there are some exceptions. It is illegal for vehicles to have red lights of any kind in the front of part of the vehicle, as law enforcement and emergency vehicles use the colors red and blue.

Laser detection devices are legal: TRUE

While laser detection devices are legal in Texas, laser jammers are not. Laser jammers interfere and block the signals emitted from police radar guns. If you are pulled over and caught using a laser jammer, you could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

It’s illegal to drive a vehicle without a windshield: FALSE

While driving a vehicle without a windshield is completely legal in Texas, driving a vehicle with no windshield wipers is not. All vehicles with windshields must have working wipers and be without an obstructed view like a sticker or large crack. This law seems contradictory, as it’s one of the strangest myths to date.

Driving with a dog in your front seat is legal: TRUE

Let’s face it, we were all hoping this myth was true. As of today, there are no established laws stating you aren’t allowed to drive with your furry friend in the front seat of your car. But be aware, a pet on your lap can cause distracted driving and potentially be a safety hazard.

Driving barefoot is illegal: FALSE

Driving barefoot is legal in Texas and all other 49 states. While some don’t recommend it, you won’t be fined for it when pulled over.

It’s illegal to ride in the open bed of a truck: FALSE

We’ve all ridden in the bed of a truck at least once in our life. But is it legal? The answer is yes, but only if you’re over 18. Riding in the bed of a truck isn’t the smartest or safest thing to do, it’s better to grab a seat inside the vehicle with a working seatbelt.

Driving with the interior lights of your vehicle on is illegal: FALSE

This myth is old as dirt. Some grow up believing that driving with the cabin lights on in your vehicle is illegal, but the truth is, it’s not. Some say the light coming from inside the car creates a distraction for other drivers so it’s best to keep it off to avoid a hazardous scenario.

If you were aware of these driving law myths, take our quiz to see just how knowledgable you are about your state’s driving laws.

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The camera looks at a driver and passenger from the backseat. They appear to be driving on an open highway and the driver is using his cell phone.
Find out how Texas’ new texting-while-driving law affects you.

Texas’ new texting and driving law is cracking down on distracted drivers. It is now illegal to write, send, or read on your phone while driving. In 2016, distracted driving accidents killed more than 450 Texans, and the number of accidents increased by three percent.

Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.

Steps to quit texting and driving

If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a text or social media message, it is time to get in the habit of not using your phone while driving. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit yourself to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Try putting your phone on silent in the glove compartment, or in the backseat.

Some phones and/or applications allow voice-to-text features that will allow you to respond to messages without touching your phone. If you have a long commute or feel an urgent need to respond to messages, you might consider an application that will both read your new messages and allow you to respond via voice command.

Bluetooth connectivity also allows for in-car phone calls. Though Houston does not require hands-free calls, it may be easier to call than it is to respond via text. It is also safer than holding the phone and taking one hand off the wheel during your call.

Know the law

With the new law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.

Unlike many states, the law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped at a red light. Once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down.

If an officer sees a driver looking down or the car not maintaining a lane, they can pull the car over to determine if the driver was texting.

We know accidents can happen, but texting and driving accidents can be prevented.

If you are in an accident, our team at Fogle Collision are here to help make the repair process efficient. We’ll get you an estimate so you can get your vehicle repaired and get back on the road.

A driver behind the wheel holds the steering wheel in one hand and a smartphone in the other.
Distractions like texting take our eyes and minds off the road.

Distractions are everywhere. They demand our attention throughout the day, including when we drive. Texting

while driving has become such an issue that starting September 1, 2017 in Texas, it will be illegal to text and drive.

Campaigns are also in place by several organizations nationwide and major cell phone providers to send a constant reminder that using a phone while driving leads to injuries and fatalities. Every week, Houston body shops repair cars involved in distracted driving accidents.

Distractions, distractions, and more distractions

There is a long list of what can distract a driver, but there are only three types of distraction that interfere with concentration – cognitive, visual, and manual. An example of a manual distraction would be a driver removing hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s focus away and visual takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.

Other actions that keep someone from focusing solely on driving include changing the radio station, looking at a map, talking on the phone or to others in the car, and eating. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent say they have watched a driver apply makeup while driving, more than 50 percent witnessed someone reading, and more than 20 percent have seen a driver take a selfie while behind the wheel.

Although these tasks were not high scoring in the survey, people also witnessed drivers putting in contacts, flossing teeth, and actually putting on a costume.

Real risks

A few seconds of a distraction behind the wheel can be deadly. Nationwide, there were 3,477 people who died in accidents in 2015 that were caused by a distracted driver.

Don’t get distracted

Most distractions are preventable. It starts with the driver making a conscious effort to focus only on driving. As a driver gets into the car, that is when any seat or mirror adjustments should be made, plus setting the radio and GPS.

If you find yourself taking your eyes off of the road to look at your phone, put it somewhere in the vehicle that you can’t reach while driving. Make a firm commitment to yourself that you will only check your phone once you get to your destination.

At Fogle Collision Centers, we hope everyone drives safely. If you are involved in a collision due to distracted driving, we can take care of your auto body repairs. Our technicians will perform high quality repairs to your vehicle so you can get back on the road.

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