Texas Road Rules (How to Share the Road with Others)

Texas Road Rules (How to Share the Road with Others)

When driving in Texas, you’ll hardly be able to drive on empty roadways. 

Instead, you’ll find yourself driving alongside various vehicles (and people, too!).

This is why it’s so important to know how to share the road — this does wonders to keep you and others safe. 

And this is why, here, we’re going to go over the Texas road rules. 

We’ll show you the road rules on how to share the road with:

  • Emergency vehicles
  • School buses
  • Pedestrians
  • Trucks
  • Motorcycles
  • Light rails
  • Bicycles

So let’s get straight to it!

How to Share the Road with Emergency Vehicles

You’re likely to share the road with an emergency vehicle at one point.

These include ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks, among others.

Now, when the emergency vehicle activates its sirens and lights, try to move to the right-most lane to give way. 

Better yet, see if you can stop.

However, we realize that this might not always be possible. 

So, if you can’t pull over, reduce your speed so that the emergency vehicle can easily pass.

What if the emergency vehicle is stopped by the road?

You’re required to slow down and move one or two lanes away from the scene. 

If the posted speed limit is 25 mph or higher, slow down to not more than 20 mph. If the limit is less than 25 mph, you should travel up to 5 mph.

Knowing the following points is also crucial:

  • Stay at least 500 feet away from an ambulance flashing its lights or a fire engine answering an alarm. Don’t follow these vehicles too closely. 
  • Do not park on the street where the fire truck is answering an alarm or any area that may block the arrival or departure of an ambulance.

How to Share the Road with School Buses

Sharing the road with a school bus requires caution.

This is because they always load or unload children. 

Moreover, Texas has a strict school bus law. 

The law requires you to stop when a school bus stops, even when going in the opposite direction.

You can only resume driving when the school bus has deactivated its lights and begins moving — OR if the school bus driver motions for you to proceed. 

If you don’t stop for a school bus, you may face the following penalties:

  • First offense: A fine between $500 to $1,250
  • Second offense (within five years): A fine between $1,000 to $2,000; possible 6-month suspension of your driver’s license

If you pass a stopped school bus and it results in grave injury or even death to someone, the penalties are harsher:

  • First offense (Class A misdemeanor): A fine of up to $4,000 and possibly up to one year in jail
  • Second offense (felony): Confinement between 180 days to 2 years and a possible fine of up to $10,000

Of course, there are a few exceptions to the school bus law. 

These are:

  • You don’t have to stop if you are passing the school bus on a different road blocked by a median strip. 
  • You don’t have to pass if you are on a controlled-access highway and the bus stops at a loading zone where pedestrians cannot cross

How to Share the Road with Pedestrians

It’s not only motorists you must watch out for when driving — pedestrians share the road with you, too!

Rule of thumb: ALWAYS yield the right of way to pedestrians. 

And this applies whether in a crosswalk, uncontrolled intersection, green traffic lights, etc. 

In Texas, here are some signs that serve as reminders to yield the right of way to pedestrians:

Yield Here to Pedestrian Signs are often found at a crosswalk that crosses an uncontrolled multi-lane roadway.
In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Signs are at the centerline of a crosswalk, a lane line, or a median island. 

Overhead Pedestrian Crossing Signs are above the roadway at a crosswalk.

Texas also has a unique pedestrian-activated warning device called a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB). 

This system simultaneously shows signals to motorists and pedestrians. The sequence is as follows:

Texas Road Rules

How to Share the Road with Trucks

When driving alongside a huge truck, always be ready to take some extra precautions. 

Here are some Texas road rules to keep in mind:

  • Avoid a truck’s blind spots. This is directly in front and at the back of the truck, as well as directly beside the truck’s front cabin. To avoid the no-zones, stay a bit behind on the side. 
  • Let a truck driver know you want to pass by flashing your headlights. They should respond by moving to the far side of the lane, giving you more space to complete the maneuver.
  • Once you’ve passed, don’t reenter the lane immediately. Wait until you can see the truck’s entire front cab before doing so.
  • When a truck passes you, move to the far side of your lane. Reduce your speed slightly and wait for the driver to signal that they’re about to reenter.
  • Keep to the far side of your lane if a truck approaches from the opposite direction. Because of its size, you might get sideswiped or experience wind turbulence. Having ample distance between you can prevent both incidents.
  • Don’t follow a truck too closely — remember, trucks need more time to fully brake. 
  • If it’s night, dim your lights. Bright lights can reflect in the truck driver’s side mirror, temporarily blinding them.
  • When traveling an incline, leave space between you and a truck. Some trucks may roll back a bit before coming to a complete standstill — it may crash into you if you’re directly behind it.
  • Wait for a truck to complete a maneuver before attempting to pass it. These include when it’s backing up or making a right turn.

How to Share the Road with Motorcycles

Motorcycle riders are 35x more likely to die from a traffic collision than drivers in passenger vehicles. 

This is why part of your responsibility is ensuring you don’t endanger them (and yourself).

Because they’re smaller than a typical passenger vehicle, spotting a motorcycle or gauging how fast they’re going might be challenging. 

This is why you should follow these Texas road rules:

  • When crossing an intersection or turning, always watch out for motorcycles. 
  • Always signal before switching lanes or merging into traffic. This gives motorcyclists more time to gauge the traffic flow and find a safe position.
  • If you see a motorcycle with its turn signals on, don’t assume right away they are turning. Most don’t have self-canceling lights, so it’s best to slow down and see before proceeding. 
  • Even if you think there’s enough space for you and a motorcycle to be side-by-side, don’t crowd them. Like all vehicles, motorcyclists deserve a full lane width.

How to Share the Road with Light Rails

Light rails are quiet. 

This makes it a challenge for motorists to determine when one is approaching.

Thankfully, train horns and signal bells alert you to the presence of a light rail. So if you hear those, you know that one’s coming.

Now, when a light rail is approaching, remember the following:

  • Don’t attempt to race a light rail
  • Don’t put anything on or near the tracks
  • Don’t drive around the crossing gate arms (those are closed for a reason)
  • Only cross tracks at designated spots and do so only when it’s safe. 
  • Look both ways before proceeding — trains can come from both directions.

How to Share the Road with Bicycles

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers on the road. 

And sure, even if they’re slow, you’ll have to respect them. 

Here are some road rules to keep in mind when it comes to sharing the road with bicycles:

  • Never drive, stop, or park in bicycle lanes. 
  • Always watch out for bicycles when making a turn. If there is one, wait for them to pass before turning. 
  • A bicycle has the right to a full lane. Don’t push them to the side. 
  • Don’t drive too close to a bicycle. These vehicles are very susceptible to road conditions, like objects, potholes, or debris. They may need to adjust their position to avoid these. 

The Wrap Up

And those were the Texas road rules on how to share the road with different vehicles (and people!).

Whether it’s a motorcycle, a truck, or an ambulance beside you, now you know what to do.

And knowing how to deal with other motorists can help you (and them) keep the Texas roadways safe.

Remember, it’s always better to be a safe driver. 

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