How to Share the Road in Texas

Driving may be the single most dangerous activity we take part in throughout our lives. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 17,000 people sustained serious injuries driving in Texas in 2017. Practicing safe driving is the best defense drivers have against the harm and expense of needless accidents.

No one has the sole rights to driving on a road. Across Texas, roads are used by cars, bicycles, motorcycles, trucks, trailers, RVs, tractors, and horses. Texans get around in all sorts of ways, with new modes of transportation coming online all the time.

Over the past year, electric scooters have flushed into the streets of Texas cities, sometimes confusing drivers. And while driverless cars and ride-sharing drones may still be a few years away, it’s always a good time to brush up on the rules on sharing roads with the many modes of transit Texans now encounter in their travels around the state. Here’s how to share:

Cars and Trucks

Cars are the fastest, and therefore the most dangerous, mode of transport. It falls on drivers to ensure the safety of others using the road. Here are a few key rules to keep in mind when driving:

  • Bicycles, motorcycles, electric scooters, and other vehicles all have the same rights as drivers, even if they are slower. Pass them like you would any other vehicle, but be sure to take it slow and don’t pass too closely.
  • Always check your blind spots and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Sometimes smaller vehicles are harder to spot, especially at night.
  • Always stay in your lane and give ample warning to other vehicles with your turn signals.
  • Take your time at intersections and double-check for other vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Finally, be patient. It’s always safest for you and others.

Bicycles

Texas saw 12,789 crashes involving bicycles — and 297 fatalities — between 2007 and 2012, according to Share the Road Texas. Most of these accidents can be avoided through patience, safe driving, and a greater understanding of driving rules.

As the sport of cycling expands in popularity, more people are looking for ways to get around Texas towns and cities without an automobile. Cars should expect to share the road with bikes on city streets and rural roads. If you’re cycling:

  • Remember bikes have the same rights as cars.
  • Obey street signs, signals, and road markings.
  • Ride defensively and assume other drivers can’t see you.
  • Don’t ride with headphones in or other distractions.
  • Avoid riding on the sidewalk when possible.
  • Wear a helmet and bright colors, including reflective clothing at night.
  • Ride predictably and use clear hand signals.

Scooters

There’s been some confusion around the rules for this new addition to Texas cities’ streets. If you’re on a scooter:

  • Follow all the regular rules of driving, including speed limits, red lights, and stop signs.
  • Ride on the street if the speed limit is under 35 mph.
  • Ride on the sidewalk if the speed limit is above 35 mph.
  • Use bike lanes where available.
  • Use your arms to signal turns.
  • Riders are encouraged to wear a helmet, though they are not required to by law.
  • All scooter riders must have a valid driver’s license. If you are too young to drive, you are too young to jump on a scooter.

Tractors

There are plenty of counties in Texas where cars and trucks share the road with tractors, reapers, combines, and all sorts of farm equipment. If you’re driving a tractor:

  • Attach a slow-moving-vehicle sign if it travels at 25 mph or slower.
  • Stay to the right and allow faster-moving traffic to pass by, moving onto the shoulder if possible.
  • Take care when turning. To faster-moving traffic, it may not look like you are making a turn when at an intersection.
  • Farm equipment can’t always pull onto the shoulder. If a car can’t pass, it should default by giving farm equipment the right of way.
  • Other drivers should remember that visibility is very different behind the wheel of a piece of farm equipment.

Horses

Horses are, of course, the original preferred mode of Texas travel. And while you may think you’ll only encounter riders in rural areas, the broad grassy shoulders around the freeways of Dallas have seen their fair share of riders. If you’re on horseback:

  • Horseback riders have the same rights as pedestrians. Ride on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic.
  • If a carriage or buggy is attached to a horse, it is considered a vehicle: You should ride on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Help drivers pass you by moving to the right.
  • Drivers should take care not to frighten the animal when passing. Pass slowly and calmly, keep your distance, and be careful not to spray gravel.
  • When possible, ride in a pack, wear bright colors, and avoid riding in poor visibility.

Even the safest drivers can’t always avoid accidents. Do you have the protection you need? Get a quote here, and learn more about your auto insurance options here.

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