Seven Things to Know About Driving on the Roads in Texas

The driver waits in a big traffic jam in the car

A lot of road rules are the same wherever you go. You need to wear your seatbelt, you should always drive in the right hand lane, and never tailgate, as it can be considered a form of reckless driving. Not to mention, it’s not polite!

Although many rules are the same no matter where you go, there are some things about driving on the road that are unique to Texas.

Driving in Texas Can Be Dangerous

It’s true that driving can be dangerous no matter where you’re driving, but it seems to be particularly dangerous in the Lone Star State. In 2020, Texas didn’t have a single deathless day on the road. When the total number of deaths is broken down, someone is killed in a car accident every two hours and 15 minutes in Texas.

It’s always a good idea to stay alert behind the wheel, which means putting your cell phone down and limiting other distractions. You may also want to avoid the road during the deadliest times. October was the deadliest month in 2020 in Texas, while deaths were also high on weekend days, as well as the Monday after Christmas. Plan the time you spend in your car accordingly, or at least be on high alert if you find yourself behind the wheel when your likelihood of getting into an accident is increased.

Take Advantage of Feeder Roads

Although they do exist elsewhere, Texas has the most feeder roads in the United States. Most of them exist in and around Houston.

Also referred to as frontage roads, feeders, access roads, and service roads, these streets run parallel to freeways and highways. They act as convenient ways to access stores and other businesses from high speed roads, and they are a great way to connect to cross streets.

In Texas, there’s no need to take a long and frustrating detour if you miss your turn. Simply turn off on the next feeder road and you can turn around and get where you need to go quickly. If you know what these roads are the next time you’re in Texas, you can be on the lookout so you can take advantage of them!

Watch Out for Toll Roads

Some states have toll roads and some don’t. Texas is one of those states.

Not knowing you could be faced with a toll road can be frustrating, so it helps to know where the roads are in Texas. There areabout 25 toll roads altogether that are operated by different organizations. A few of the most-used toll roads include:

  • International Parkway outside the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Loop 1 Toll in Austin
  • I-10 in Houston
  • I-30E Express in Dallas
  • SH 375 Toll in El Paso

Make sure you do a little research if you’re traveling in Texas to see if your route takes you on a toll road. Tolls are opening all the time, so there may be one where there wasn’t one before.

Pass on the Shoulder

In many states, the shoulder is for stopped, broken down, or emergency vehicles only. In Texas, you can actually drive on the shoulder legally.

However, you can only use the right shoulder if it’s necessary and you can do it safely. Times when you can use the shoulder include:

  • Accelerating before entering the travel lane
  • Decelerating before a right turn
  • Passing another vehicle that is slowing
  • Passing another vehicle that’s turning left
  • Letting a faster vehicle pass

Keep in mind that the rules for the left shoulder are different! It should only be used to stop if the right shoulder isn’t available, or to avoid a collision.

Traffic Can Get Congested in Major Cities

It’s true rural roads can be nearly deserted, but the traffic in major Texas cities rivals the traffic in other large cities that are known for bad traffic in the United States.

Multiple Texas cities made the list of the31 cities that had the worst traffic in 2019. Houston was the worst, coming in at number 11, but Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio made the list too.

If you’re driving through any of Texas’s major metropolitan areas, it’s a good idea to leave early so you have plenty of time to get wherever you’re going. If you have the option, try driving outside of rush hour so there are fewer cars on the road.

Dust is a Thing

Texas can get dusty, especially in the summer when things dry out and the sun gets hot. When the wind picks up, all that dust gets blown off the ground and into the air. If it’s dusty and windy enough, it can make the sky hazy and the road difficult to see. At the very least, you shouldn’t be surprised to discover a thin layer of dirt all over your car when you get to your destination.

It’s not just Texas dust you have to worry about. Because of the way the atmosphere works, dust from the Sahara Desert ends up in Texas too! It’s actually a good thing for the weather and the environment, but it can make driving difficult.

Roads Can Get Icy

Although Texas isn’t known for cold temperatures, it can still get icy. Without snow, it’s easy to think that everything is fine, when in reality, you might be driving on a slick road. That’s why it’s a good idea to slow down and drive carefully on the road when the temperature drops below freezing, even if there is no snow or freezing rain in the forecast.

Be especially wary of bridges. Because they aren’t insulated by the ground, they can get icy when the rest of the road isn’t.

Driving on the roads in Texas is the same as anywhere else in some ways, but completely different in others. By knowing how the roads are a little different before you take your next trip to the state, you can enjoy a less stressful, safer drive.