New Texas laws cover road safety concerns

| 9/1/2011

Traveling along Texas roadways may be noticeably different starting Thursday, Sept. 1. In addition to speed limit changes now in effect around the state, other new laws approved by the Legislature this year cover road safety concerns.

One new law expands the list of emergency vehicles covered by the state’s Move Over law. Tow trucks are now listed among the emergency personnel protected. Existing law authorizes fines up to $200 for failure to move over or slow to 20 miles per hour below the speed limit. Heftier punishment is doled out for property damage or injury resulting from inaction.

Also taking effect Thursday is a rule that is intended to limit distractions for the state’s youngest drivers. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using cellphones, hand-held or hands-free, while behind the wheel. Exceptions would be made for emergencies.

A separate effort to prohibit texting while driving for drivers of all ages was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry. He said the issue needs to be addressed with education, not law enforcement.

Another new law is intended to help prevent fires along roadsides. Drivers who start fires by tossing out lit cigarettes, cigars or other burning debris, can be fined up to $500.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Texas, click here.

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