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Driving Etiquette

Peak traveling season is here; and for many Texans, that means long hours on the road measuring distance by time, not miles. The Lone Star state is known for its size and long roads. We all must remember that with great roads comes great responsibility (pun intended). Why not take some time to examine some driving rules and etiquettes. The following are a few topics we chose to go over. I am fully aware that many topics may be useful and welcome comments to explore more in some detail. However, let us take a look at a few road rules and etiquettes to make our roads safer, avoid road rage, and most importantly avoid any car accidents that will dampen your much anticipated R&R.

I will start with a personal favorite, passing. Passing is extensively detailed in Transportation Code Sec. 545 subchapter B. I remember talking to a student of mine when I was teaching in Houston. He had never been out of the city until he went to visit his grandmother in the RGV. He was amazed that several drivers passed them when traveling on a two-lane road by driving to their left against traffic. Passing another by traveling on the left side of the roadway is normal for most who travel farm to market roads often. The Transportation Code takes a commonsense approach to pass on a two-lane road. Sometimes passing zones or no-passing zones are marked. Other times, you must be aware of the rules of the road. For example, you may not pass if you are approaching an intersection, a tunnel, or a railroad.

While most of the responsibility is placed on the passing driver, the driver being passed must act responsibly as well. When being passed, you must remain on the lane you are traveling and must not accelerate until completely passed. This does not apply when being passed on multi-lane roads such as highways. On that note, it is important to recognize the designation of lanes on a highway. The left lane is the passing lane, once you pass you must switch back to the right lane. You can be stopped and ticketed by a police officer if this rule is not followed. This rule is designed to keep our highways safe and avoid auto accidents.

Speaking about passing, many Texans believe that traveling 5 mph over the posted speed limit is perfectly legal and acceptable. While many police officers will not stop you from speeding if it is no more than 5 mph over the posted speed limit; this is completely up to their discretion. In fact, according to the Transportation code "a speed in excess of the limits … is prima facie evidence … that the speed is unlawful". Something to think about, just because it hardly happens does not mean it cannot.

From speeding to slowing down, how about merging when traffic is diverted from multiple lanes to one? While a vehicle entering a lane of traffic from the right shall yield the right of way to a vehicle entering (or traveling) the same lane from the left. Think of vehicles entering the expressway. However, when multiple lanes are merged into one because of construction or motor vehicle accidents the State of Texas seems to be encouraging a different approach. It is commonly known as the zipper method, but TxDOT calls it Dynamic Late Merge (DLM). The idea is to decrease congestion while simultaneously improving safety. Want to do your part and help avoid serious traffic accidents? Then next time you find yourself approaching a merge be patient and continue traveling on the lane you are in, at a safe speed, until you reach the merge point.

So much more can be covered on the topic of safe driving on our roads. Even the topics discussed can be elaborated on further. But all good things must come to an end. In the meantime, please remember to stay safe and vigilant. The best offense is a good defense. I wish everyone safe travels and happy road trips. If you ever find yourself a victim of a car or truck accident, do not hesitate to call us. We will make sure your rights are protected and get you the compensation you deserve.