Buses, Funerals, and Four-Way Stops: Common Traffic Laws We Violate

by Stevie Hall*

At this point in life, odds are we have broken the law in some form or fashion. You probably didn’t rob a bank, get caught in a drug bust, or even shoplifted. Most likely your driving habits violated the law, and it was probably an accident. Being uninformed of miscellaneous laws including passing on the shoulder, four way stop right-of-way, passing a school bus, funeral procedures, and stopping for emergency vehicles, can possibly get you a ticket if you haven’t been caught yet. In this blog we will discuss some of the most common questions when it comes to traffic violations.

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*  Is it legal to pass on the shoulder, if someone has stopped in the lane to turn left?

Yes, if a person is slowing down or has made a stop in the lane of a two lane highway, then it is legal to pass to the right of them on the shoulder. It is actually legal in many cases to drive on the shoulder in the state of Texas.

Other cases include:

-To stop, stand, or park.

-Slowing down to make a right turn.

-Moving to the right to let a faster car pass.

-To speed up before entering a highway into traffic.

-When it is directed by an official traffic control device

-To avoid a collision.

*  Who has the right-of-way at a four way stop?

There is actually no law concerning who goes first at a four way stop, therefore it is up to the drivers to decide. In school you always learn to let the person who made it first go, then clockwise from there. Although this is a very useful tip, inexperienced or careless drivers may not be familiar with this, or may not care to abide by it. It really comes down to the “first come, first served” rule. This means when you get to a four way stop, let everyone who was there before you go, then you can go.

*  I’ve heard that you can’t legally pass a stopped bus, but I’ve seen people do it. Is this legal?

When a school bus is stopped, and its red lights are flashing, and/or their stop sign swings out, you must stop. Traffic that is heading in both directions must stop. However, if there is a physical median (left hand turn lanes do not count) between you and the school bus, you can continue driving. If you are not on the same street as the bus, but a street that intersects it, you can continue as long as you are cautious. You even have to stop if you are driving on a seven lane highway (three lanes on each side, one turn lane in the middle). These rules apply to urban and rural areas.

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*  What do I do legally when I pass a funeral?

In the state of Texas, there is no official law that prohibits the continuation of driving when a funeral passes by, it is just a common practice among drivers out of respect for the deceased. However, if an officer asks you to yield, or physically stops traffic, you must abide by his request.

*  What do I do when an ambulance, police officer, fire truck, or other emergency vehicles have their lights on while driving down the road?

When an emergency vehicle has any kind of emergency signal, whether visual and/or audible, you must immediately yield to the right, and stop until they have passed. This law applies no matter which direction you are traveling, and they always have the right-of-way at intersections. If an emergency vehicle is stopped in a lane, you must move to the left hand lane of them, and if that’s impossible, then you must slow down to 20 miles lower than the posted speed limit.

These are just a few of the common questions of traffic law and violations. If you have received a citation because of a traffic violation, or would like to know more information pertaining to traffic law, call our office at (936) 294-1717, or go online to our website http://www.shsu.edu/legalservice to make an appointment.

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