Driving In Texas

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. So when you’re planning a drive in the Lone Star State, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Literally. The state has 310,000 square miles of road, ranging from major highways to country trails. Many traffic rules in Texas vary from county to county, city to city – so even residents can be caught off guard.

But whether you’re driving in a big city like Houston or exploring the state’s mountains, ranches and plains, there’s no need to be daunted.

Here are some handy tips for driving in Texas – so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Who Can Drive in Texas?

If you’re learning the Texas rules of the road, it’s a good idea to check your driving eligibility first.

 

  •   Residents of Texas – If you live in Texas and have a valid license, you’re eligible to drive in the state. New licensed residents have 90 days from when they arrive to secure a Texas driver license. 

  •    US and Canada citizens (16+) – Other US/Canada residents age 16 and older are eligible to drive in Texas if they have a valid license for their home state or province. However, they can only drive a vehicle permitted for Class C or Class M Texas driver licenses.

  •    Non-US or Canada citizens (18+) – Anyone over 18 can drive any vehicle in Texas, providing they have a full license in their own country or state. However, this is under the proviso that their country or state currently grants legal reciprocity to Texas citizens.

  •   Military personnel – Any active US military personnel and their spouses can drive in Texas if they have a valid US state license.

Driving Laws to Be Aware Of in Texas

Using Your Phone

Using your phone while driving is always a bad idea. There are several city-specific traffic rules in Texas that cell phone usage while driving.

They fall into three categories:

  •   Bans on texting

  •   Bans on all manual phone use (including texting)

  •   Bans on all wireless communication devices

Depending on your location, breaking these rules can result in a fine of between $200-$500.

As a general rule, avoid using the phone while you’re behind the wheel. It’s always safer to drive free of distractions.

Alcohol Limit

Driving law in Texas prohibits anyone to drive with over a 0.8% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). This drops to 0.6% for commercial drivers and 0.2% for those under 21.

First time offenses carry arrest, $2,000 fines and 90-day driving bans. You can be jailed for periods of 72 hours to 180 days.  

Parking

Across Texas, it’s illegal to park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant. But most other laws vary across the state.

When you visit urban areas, brush up on city parking laws before you arrive. Big cities like Dallas, Houston or Austin often carry larger fines for illegal parking. Look out for roadside meter rates to make sure you’re all paid up.

Using Headlights

Driving law in Texas states that you should use your headlights at night and when you have low visibility (less than 1,000 feet).

Wearing A Seatbelt

Everyone over eight years old is required to wear a seatbelt while in a vehicle in Texas.

Child seats are required for all those under eight years old in Texas. Follow the manufacturer’s guide closely to make sure everyone’s strapped in safely.

Car Insurance

Driving without car insurance can carry substantial fines, starting at $350. Further offenses can lead to higher fines and car impounds.

Keep To The Speed Limit

Texas operates a presumed speed limit system. This means that you can drive a little faster than the stated limit, provided you’re driving safely. However, it’s always safer to keep to the stated limit.

It’s also worth noting that Texas speed limits are often displayed as a range — say, 75-85ph. Trucks and larger vehicles should keep to the bottom of this range.

Breaking the speed limit can lead to fines from $1 to $200. More serious speeding offenses can result in driving suspensions and bans.

Making U-Turns

Statewide traffic codes indicate that you can only do a U-turn if you can see 500 feet in front and behind you. Be careful and stay safe – a dangerous U-turn can result in a serious accident, not to mention a ticket for reckless driving.

Speed Limits in Texas

Speed limits should be clearly marked, but it’s worth taking a look at the list below too – just so you know what to expect.

  • Residential - 25-30 mph

  • Undivided rural road - 55-75 mph

  • Divided rural road - 75 mph

  • Freeway inside city limits - 55-75 mph

  • Freeway outside city limits - 85 mph

Driving On The Freeway In Texas

Texas freeways have several laws you might not be used to. Let’s go through a few of them in turn.

Merging and changing lanes

If you’re merging or changing lanes from the right-hand side, leave plenty of time. State law requires you to yield to the left-hand drivers who are already in their lane. 

Be prepared and be patient – optimize your speed until you find an opening. You can use the shoulder of the highway by law if you need to.

Yielding

Though cars merging from the right lanes don’t have legal right of way, it’s common for drivers in the left lane to yield anyway. This is both out of safety and courtesy. To keep the flow of traffic moving, do the same as appropriate.

Passing

If you’re passing a slower-moving driver in Texas, you must do so from the left-hand side. Change lanes and accelerate past the driver before moving back to your lane. 

Driving Safely In Texas

Texas rules of the road might be a bit different – but the state’s size, beauty and diversity make it an awesome driving location.

A few final things to consider:

  •     Be aware of your conditions – Texas has a varied climate and weather patterns. Do your research and make sure you’re ready for storms, rain and ice as well as sun.

  •     Don’t drive while distracted – As we mentioned above, using your wireless devices can carry a fine. But don’t forget that distractions cost lives too.

  •     Take regular breaks – Texas roads can be long and monotonous. Stop regularly for coffee, food or overnight stays. It’s a good idea to plan your trip around your stops.

  •     Pack plenty of water – Some average August temperatures in Texas can go as high as 96F. And if you’re driving through more remote areas, you might not find a store for a while. Stock up on bottled water and snacks before you leave.

Buy a Used Car in Texas

Texas is a hugely diverse state – and it could take a lifetime to explore it all. Choose the right vehicle for your journey and enjoy every minute in safety, comfort and style.

Shop our range of trucks, SUVs, hatchbacks, coupes and sedans.