Texas drivers and passengers – including teens – will soon see a lot of changes in a number of laws that relate to driving and driver education. This is a quick list of the major changes, with links to the actual laws that were passed in the last session of the Texas Legislature. All of these changes take place on September 1st. But, If you applied for your license before September 1st, you are subject to the law that was in effect before then.
- The restriction period under the state’s graduated driver license law will double in length. That means that new teen drivers will be prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. or carrying more than one passenger under age 21 for 12 months instead of 6 months. In addition, cell phone use will be prohibited for all drivers under 18. Read the new law [PDF] .
- New drivers will have to pass a driving test before getting a license. For the past 14 years, that test has been optional, but it will now be required at the end of any driver education course. The same law increases the required behind-the-wheel training in driver education courses from 14 hours to 34 hours. Read the new law [PDF] .
- All drivers and passengers will have to wear safety belts, whether they are sitting in the front or the back seat, regardless of age. Read the new law [PDF] .
- Cell phones may not be used by anyone – regardless of age – in a school zone, unless the call is an emergency or is placed with a hands-free phone. (But remember, research shows that hands-free phones aren’t any safer than the other kind). Read the new law [PDF] .
- DWI penalties are getting a lot tougher. Anyone who drives drunk with a child passenger faces having his or her license suspended, even on a first offense. Read the new law [PDF] .
Please remember that this is just a list of highlights to changes in the laws. For complete and official information, you should contact your local law enforcement agency.
If your school’s TDS team is looking for new activities, spreading the word about these new laws would be a really big help to your friends and classmates.