In our daily rounds behind the wheel, we all encounter (or maybe even have) habits that are good, those that violate the laws of etiquette and some that just plain break the law. Since being mannerly applies to time spent in the driver’s seat, we recently interviewed Sergeant Jason Reyes, Regional Spokesperson for Department of Public Safety, to get the low-down on many common scenarios among motorists. Read on for 10 tips on being courteous behind the wheel and staying on the right side of the law based on his answers to my questions.
1. Is spitting gum out of the car called “littering”?
Technically, yes. Though it is a gray area and up to law enforcement’s discretion, the bottom line is that “littering is littering” and that is a violation of the law. This also includes something as harmless as an apple core or banana peel – who knew?
2. Can you get a ticket from loud radio noise?
Yes you can, if there is a noise ordinance, and there usually is. The decibel regulations vary from city to city but a good rule of thumb is, if your windows are rattling and your teeth are jiggling, it’s too loud.
3. What’s the rule about “warning” an oncoming car about a police up ahead?
This is considered an “unnecessary use of headlamps” and it is optimally up to the officer’s discretion as to whether or not he or she decides to pull you over and give you a ticket. It could also be seen as interference with the duties of a public servant. You have to ask yourself whether or not you want to warn a speeding car of a speed trap. If that car is in my neighborhood with children playing close to the street, my answer is no.
4. Is it against the law to drive with two feet in a regular transmission car (one on the gas and one on the brake)?
No. There is no violation for riding the brake. But, yes, I think there should be a common sense citation for those that subject you to the back and forth rocking of the car because they are using two feet.
5. What is the rule if you see a funeral procession, either in your lane or the lane on the opposite side of the road?
While there is no Texas state law on this, individual cities in Texas may have their own city ordinances. But the protocol, of course, is to pull over and allow the funeral procession to pass. There are rules from state to state and it would be a good idea to find out before encountering your next procession.
6. How much over the speed limit can you go without getting a speeding ticket? Ultimately, it is a violation of the law to exceed a posted speed limit sign by any degree. That said, it is at the police officer’s discretion to determine if someone’s safety is at risk, along with department policy of each city, and town.
7. How far in advance do you have to put your blinker on before turning?
You must signal your blinker 100 ft. before making your desired turn. Guys, are you reading this?
8. Do vehicles on the opposite side of the road halt when a school bus is stopped with flashing lights while loading or unloading children?
Yes. However, if there is a median or barrier (grassy or concrete) separating the road with the bus, they do not have to stop.
9. Is it illegal to drive barefoot?
Despite what your parents told you, there is no violation to driving barefoot. They are just worried you will get in an accident and want you to be ready – along with clean undies and an updated insurance card.
10. What is an HOV lane?
Whatever you do, don’t call it the “Hove” lane. HOV stands for High Occupancy Vehicle, and it’s a lane that is used during heavy traffic hours. If you are traveling with 2 or more passengers, you can jump in and fly by the rest of the traffic that is bumper to bumper. Over size stuffed animals and blow up dolls don’t count!
A special thank you to Sgt. Reyes for setting the record straight. For more information on DPS, visit www.txdps.state.tx.us.
Watch our video on SA Living, where we talk driving manners and answer your frequently asked questions.