75ºF

Answers to common questions about Texas’ rules of the road

HOUSTON – It’s back-to-school time for Texas children, meaning drivers have to be extra cautious as school zones become more active.

Here’s a quick look at the rules of the road when it comes to school zones, highways and intersections.

  • Put your cellphone away.
    • Cellphone use is banned for all drivers in active school zones. Those who ignore this can face up to a $200 fine.
    • Remember, current Texas law only bans texting and reading or writing email while driving -- you can check your phone at a red light. If you’re not in an active school zone, you are allowed to use your phone for music or GPS.
  • School bus drivers can’t use their cellphones while driving, even for GPS, if children are present.
  • Parents must drop off and pick up children in the school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.
  • Intersections: In a controlled four-way stop, the first car to arrive, goes first. If two cars arrive at the same time, yield to the vehicle on the right. Remember, it’s illegal to block an intersection in Texas. If you can’t completely clear the intersection, wait until traffic clears to continue all the way through.
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way at an intersection.
  • Left lane passing: Did you know you could get a ticket for staying on the left lane of a highway? Watch out for signs on a highway that read, “Left lane for passing only.” This means, the left lane on a divided highway is not a “fast” lane. If you don’t pay attention to these signs, get ready to pay up because you could face a $200 fine, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
  • How far behind should you travel from another vehicle? Many drivers follow the “three-second rule,” meaning you should keep three-seconds-worth of space between your car and the car in front of you to keep a safe following distance.
  • When traveling through neighborhood roads, it’s important to remember that cyclists in Texas have the same rights as motorists. Drivers should give cyclists 3 to 5 feet of space when passing.