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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This may come as a surprise to Texans *wink*, but not all drivers know the rules of the road. So what can we do to make the roads safer? Brush up on those driving laws! Even if you are a safe driver, knowing how to react to certain situations could lead you to make a safer decision, and in a timely manner.
Take the quiz below and find out how you fare. Then, find some pointers on these laws below.
Driving in TX: Do you know state laws?
Some traffic laws vary from state to state. Do you know what to do if an emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the road? Or when to use (or put away) your cell phone? Take our quiz to find out how much you know.
Some of these laws are tricky, and some have even changed recently. Here’s an explanation for each of these questions, in case you missed it.
1. If an emergency vehicle is parked on the right side of the road with it’s emergency lights flashing, what should you do?
If the vehicle is parked, you don’t need to stop, but flashing lights indicate that there’s still activity going on on the road. This is why Texas law says cars must slow down to 20 mph under the posted limit. Most drivers are inclined to slow down when they see flashing lights anyway since they associate them with police. Keep in mind there might be debris from an accident, people walking close to the road, and/or stopped traffic ahead.
2. What should you do if a school bus has its yellow hazards flashing?
School bus hazards are used much like those of regular vehicles. The most common use is when buses stop for a train track. Busses are required to stop before crossing tracks and look both ways. Drivers in their personal vehicles may not realize, or forget, and could run into the bus if they’re not expecting to stop.
3. Can you cross the median between freeway and frontage road in stopped traffic?
Crossing a median is illegal in all instances, but crossing between frontage and freeway (and vice versa) is a common maneuver for Texans. It may seem like a good idea to get off a slow road, but doing so puts other cars in danger when you merge in a location they aren’t expecting you to merge.
4. Which of these statements on handheld devices is true in Texas?
While Austin used to be entirely hands-free (no talking, texting, messing with electronic devices at all), Texas’ no-texting law overruled that one. Under this state law, sending and receiving messages is banned, but talking on the phone or using devices for other purposes is not.
However, drivers in school zones, drivers with permits, and drivers under 18 may not operate a vehicle and use handheld devices at all.
5. What do you legally have to do if you see a funeral procession?
It may be rude to drive past a funeral, but there’s no law against it. You don’t have to slow down if you’re not putting others in danger. The main thing is to be cautious and respectful.
6. When should you use a turn signal?
Even in a turn lane, you must use a turn signal, Texans. This signals your intention to cars around you. Even if you know you’re in a turn lane, other drivers may not.
7. What does the law say about using the shoulder lane on the highway?
Unsurprisingly, it’s illegal to use the shoulder as a passing lane. However, it’s perfectly legal (and encouraged) for slower drivers to move over into the shoulder lane to let faster cars pass on a two-lane highway.
8. Is it legal to parallel park facing oncoming traffic?
Even though this is common in residential areas, parallel parking the wrong direction is not legal anywhere in Texas. For one, you have to cross oncoming traffic to do so. Another obstacle is the way another parallel-parked car in front of you will block your view when you try to pull out.
No matter what direction you’re going in Texas, you’re sure to run into some exciting stops. You can spend months traveling the Lone Star State and never run out of new sights to see, places to eat, or events to attend. Here are a few good places along the road (between the big cities) that you may want to momentarily hang your hat on your next trip.
Big Bend (NPS Photo/Reine Wonite)
Big Bend is a hiking destination for many Texans. Nestled along the Rio Grande River, the national park has a variety of landscapes, from desert, to mountains, to river. The park also features several communities for park visitors to stay and plenty of activities for exploring the great outdoors.
Black’s BBQ, Lockhart
About a half hour outside Austin, Lockhart is a major BBQ destination. The town is known for its famous Black’s BBQ, but is also home to Kreuz Market and Smitty’s Market, also serving up mouthwatering Texas BBQ.
This convenience store is more than just an ordinary gas station. It’s a legendary snack destination. Czech Stop is often considered the best kolaches in Texas and come in a variety of satisfying flavors.
Hill Country (wine country), Fredricksburg
If you didn’t already know, the Texas Hill Country is the second biggest American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the US and fifth in US wine production. Its go-to wine destination is Fredricksburg. With over 40 wineries to choose from, you’re sure to find a relaxing cup of wine with an amazing view. While you’re wearing off that wine buzz, you can go hike at Enchanted Rock or walk around Fredricksburg’s famous downtown shops.
Silos Baking Co., Waco
If you love Fixer Upper, you’ll want to visit Joanna and Chip Gaines’ Magnolia district. The shop is filled with HGTV style and the outside square offers plenty of food trucks and space for the kids to stretch their legs. This is a great place to accommodate a variety of tastes, and maybe snag a delicious cupcake to go.
Gristmill River Restaurant, New Braunfels
The Gristmill is a historic building overlooking the Guadalupe River. The Gristmill is located beneath the Gruene (pronounce “green”) water tower, so it’s pretty hard to miss. Check out this historic mill while enjoying classic Texas favorites with a stunning river view.
This performance is a truly unique experience. The show happens during the summer in a completely outdoors auditorium, featuring over 60 musicians, singers and dancers. Celebrating Texas history, this show is for the whole family and includes a firework show.
Padre Island National Seashore
If you’ll be anywhere near Corpus Christi, you might want to take a detour to this popular park. This is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. Aside from beautiful scenery, this island also offers a multitude of family activities, including watching sea turtles hatch, camping, kayaking and even wind surfing.
If you live in Texas, you’ve probably come across a Buc-ee’s at some point. There are over 30 locations in Central and East Texas, all conveniently located on major travel thoroughfares. Stop in for some fresh tacos, an endless variety of beef jerky, or a Texas souvenir for your out-of-town family.
Colin Street Bakery, Corsicana
Colin Street Bakery is known around the world for its fruitcake and Texas pecan pies. The shop has been open since 1896 and has been featured on big media outlets like Food Network and USA Today. The original is on I-45 in Corsicana, but also has locations in Waco, Lindale, and Greenville.
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.
When you’re out in the heat, you (hopefully) take extra precautions to protect your body. You might drink extra water and put on sunscreen. But do you take precautions when it comes to your car being exposed to sizzling temperatures? Like your body, your car takes some damage in the heat. Here are our top tips to keep your car running well and looking good in the summer sun.
Check your battery
Hot temperatures have the potential to damage your car battery. Take a look and make sure it is clean of dirt and corrosion, both of which can affect the charge flow. Excessive heat can cause fluid within the battery to evaporate, shortening the battery’s life. If you have the type of battery that needs fluid refills, check the levels often.
If your interior lights or headlights are looking dim, this could be a sign that the battery isn’t functioning well. Test your battery if this happens, and replace it if needed.
Keep it clean
Keeping your vehicle clean protects your car’s exterior from the scorching sun. Dirt and debris can scratch your car’s surface so regular cleaning and a topcoat will keep the paint in good condition. A coat of wax also keeps your paint job protected from the sun and weather.
Catch some shade
Keeping your car shaded will not only help protect the vehicle from sun damage, but it will also make getting into the vehicle a lot more comfortable on a hot day. A sunshade is a good alternative when a shady parking spot isn’t available. Either way, the shade will help prevent strong rays from beating down on the vehicle, potentially fading, cracking and drying out interior components like seats and the dashboard.
Keep an eye on fluids and tires
Fluids are crucial to making sure your car is running efficiently in the heat, and they could be more prone to evaporation during the hot summer months. Make sure your car has the proper level of fluids like oil, coolant, and windshield fluid. Tires are vulnerable in the heat, thanks to the hot, expanding air within them. Like fluids, keep an eye on your tires, regularly checking the pressure.
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