If you are about to head out of town for one last time this summer, or are just going to stick around the city on the long weekend, the Texas Department of Public Safety wants you to know there have been some changes made to road-related laws that take effect Sept. 1.
While there is a chance that your naiveté on a few of these matters may get you off with a friendly warning, some of these infractions could cost you some serious money.
This is in no way a comprehensive list of driving-related changes, but is a good snapshot of some that will affect your everyday travels:
- Move over, slow down for TxDOT (SB 510): Just like you pull over a lane or slow down to 20 mph below the speed limit for police and other emergency vehicles, this requires you to move over or slow down when approaching a stationary Texas Department of Transportation vehicle with its lights on and not separated from the roadway by a traffic-control device. The state’s Move Over/Slow Down Law already requires drivers to yield to tow trucks, police, fire and emergency vehicles. Violating this law could cost you up to $200.
- Proof of insurance on your phone (SB 181): Now you can use your cell phone (or tablet) to display proof of insurance via your insurance provider's application. Showing this proof to the officer does not mean you are giving them consent to access other content on the phone. *This bill is already in effect.
- Don't have two license plates? $200 (HB 625): Driving a vehicle without the required two license plates can cost you up to $200 (if you are driving on a public roadway).
- Don't pass the bus (HB 1174): This increases the minimum fine for the misdemeanor offense of passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children up to $500, and the maximum fine goes up to $1,250.
- Cell phones in school zones (HB 347): Expands the current limitations on cell phones in school zones to include the property of a public elementary, middle, or junior high school for which a local authority has designated a school crossing zone. Use of your device is restricted during the time a reduced speed limit is in effect for the school crossing zone. This does not apply to vehicles that are stopped, or drivers using a hands-free device or making an emergency call.
- Hit and run (SB 275): This increases the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in the death of a person and failing to render aid from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. This carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.
With temperatures over the long weekend projected around the 100 degree mark each day, you should also be careful not to leave children (or pets) unattended in parked cars. Children can easily be seriously injured or die from being left alone inside a hot car.
This just in from DPS: Heavy patrols on IH-10
From Aug. 30 - Sept. 2 DPS troopers will be joining with the other seven states that line IH-10 -- Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and California -- to keep a close eye on the entire 2,460 miles of the roadway, of which nearly 880 miles is in Texas.
Officers will focus on stopping impaired drivers, aggressive drivers, speeders and drivers who fail to move over to the left-hand lane when required by law. In addition, troopers will be checking for distracted driving, seat belt use, improper lane changes and commercial vehicle safety.