Texas: The Rules of the Road

The state of Texas is the second largest state in the country, with the most widespread road network. Successful traffic management in the state of Texas is made possible with a complete set of traffic laws that include everything from driving licenses, driving regulations and laws, motor vehicle safety, and safety courses such as, Defensive Driving Texas.

The Lone Star state of Texas is ranked among the top five states in the US for giving the most traffic tickets. The astounding amount of traffic tickets is comprehensible with more than 13.5 million drivers on roads. Texas traffic tickets are given out for moving violations such as speeding, failure to obey traffic signals and signs, reckless driving, and not wearing a seat belt. More serious driving offenses include driving without a license, insurance, and driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI).

The Texas Department of Transportation (TX DOT) is the principal government body that oversees the enormous interweaving roadways that make up the state’s vehicle transportation system. Some of the different types of traffic laws in the state of Texas that oversees the driving and operation of commercial, commuter, and vehicles (aside from the already stated obvious laws of the road, mentioned above) include the following:

The Use of Seat Belts

The traffic managing laws of Texas are very specific concerning the use of seat belts while driving a vehicle and have become progressively more strict over the past few years. In the past, a person was only required to wear a seatbelt if their driving or sitting in the front passenger seat or if a passenger under the age of 16 was sitting in the back seat.

In 2009, a law was passed that every passenger in the vehicle was required to wear a seat belt while in a moving vehicle.

Car & Safety Seats

The state of Texas has recently seen a lot of changes in the laws regarding the rules of the road. Not so long ago, a child that was under the age of five was required to be in a car/safety seat. Now, all children ages eight and younger must be buckled into one of the following safety devices; an infant backward facing car seat, forward facing car seat, or a booster seat. If the child is at least 4 feet - 9 inches tall the law does not apply to them. However, a seat belt must be worn and an adjustable seat belt device must be used to keep the seat belt in the correct position on the child’s shoulder, instead of across their neck, like most seat belts are on petite adults.

Unattended Children

It is illegal in the state of Texas to leave a child under the age of seven years old unattended in a vehicle for more than five minutes. Children who are under seven years old must be attended to by a person who is at least 14 years old. Child Protective Services (CPS) strongly recommends that you do not leave your child unattended in a vehicle for any amount of time.

Acceptable Level of Alcohol Consumption

The allowed limit of alcohol consumption is 0.08 according to the state of Texas traffic regulations and laws.

Headlight Laws

All motor vehicles have to have two working headlights that are white in color. The headlights cannot be obstructed by any object such as a grill or cover. The headlines must be turned on 30 minutes before sunset (dusk) and 30 minutes before sunrise (dawn), or during any time the visibility is less than 1,000 feet. It is also advisable to turn the headlights on during bad weather conditions.


Must have their headlights on whenever they are moving. This increases your visibility, so other vehicles on the road can see you better.


Must ride with a light on the front of the bike and a red reflector light on the back of the bicycle at night.

Texting Laws

Sadly, the texting laws in the state of Texas are rather relaxed compared to the majority of other states. A driver may not read or send a text message if they are a novice driver (teen drivers and drivers who have only had their license for less than one year) may not text at all. All other drivers may not text while in a school zone. With the exception of three cities in the state, including Austin, Amarillo and El Paso (all of which have stricter prohibition of cell phone and texting while driving) due to city ordinances in Texas. Talking and texting in the state of Texas is allowed. This law alone warrants a Defensive Driving Texas course.

Child Passengers on Motorcycles

In the state of Texas it is illegal to have a child passenger who is younger than age five. However, a child age 5 and up can ride in a sidecar.

The state of Texas passed the majority of their new traffic laws in 2013. However, two cities Austin and San Antonio joined the texting and hand-free phone use law.