Here are some of the new Texas traffic laws when into effect Sept. 1, 2013.
New limits on using a cell phone in school zones
Limitations on cell phone use in an active school crossing zone have expanded to include the school’s property. This applies to public elementary, middle, and junior high schools. Phone use is restricted only during times a reduced speed limit is in effect for the school crossing zone. The restriction does not apply to vehicles that are stopped, drivers using a hands-free device, or drivers making an emergency call.
Increased fines for illegally passing a school bus
The minimum fine for drivers who pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading children has increased to $500, with a maximum fine of $1,250. The penalty for two or more convictions committed within five years increases to a misdemeanor punishable by up to $2,000.
Electronic proof of insurance
Drivers now have the option of using a cell phone (or other wireless device) to show their proof of insurance information as evidence of motor vehicle financial responsibility.
Expanded “Move Over or Slow Down” law
The state’s Move Over/Slow Down law, which requires drivers to yield to police, fire, and emergency vehicles, has been expanded to include Texas Department of Transportation vehicles that are stopped and have flashing overhead blue or amber lights. Drivers must move out of the lane closest to these vehicles (if possible) or reduce their speed to 20 mph below the posted limit. Violators can be fined up to $2,000.
Drivers involved in a collision are required to determine if people are injured
Drivers involved in a collision that results or is likely to result in the injury or death of a person must immediately determine whether a person is involved in the collision, and if so, whether the person needs aid.
Increased penalties for leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death or injury
The penalty for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that results in a person’s death and failing to render aid has increased from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony carries a punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000.