Driving Laws

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey (Traffic Safety Facts: 2012 Data; April 2014, NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics Analysis) shows that more than 30% of all cyclist injuries/fatalities are due to being struck by motorists. Many motorists don’t realize that cyclists have the same fundamental rights to the road and duties as motor vehicles. A lack of knowledge about the law can cause confusion, frustration and fear in motorists and cyclists alike.

Common Myths and Misperceptions of Motorists

The following common myths and misperceptions have been interpreted for ease of communication. For a complete list of Texas laws visit the Texas statutes. Also be sure to check your local ordinances as they vary from city to city.

Driving Best Practices:

Motorists can help prevent crashes with cyclists by taking care to follow these best practices on yielding and turning.

For a complete listing of Texas cyclist and motorist laws, see the Texas Transportation Code.

  • Make sure to yield to cyclists when turning left or entering the road from a side street, driveway, or parking lane.
  • Merge completely to the far right edge of the road in advance of making a right turn.
  • Wait for any bicyclist ahead to clear the intersection before you make a right turn — do not turn across the path of the cyclist. Even if there is a bike lane, you should merge into the bike lane before turning right.
  • Always keep in mind that cyclists have the same right to be on the road as motorists.
  • Give at least three feet of passing space between your vehicle and the bicyclist.
  • Watch your speed around parks, trails and residential areas.
  • Before opening a car door on the traffic side, look for bicyclists. Open doors slowly.
  • Stop at intersections behind the crosswalk area and look carefully for cyclists.
  • When driving, slow down or stop when approaching a sidewalk.
  • Before reaching an intersection, be aware of cyclists in both directions before you cross.
  • Double check your pathway and proceed slowing when backing out of driveway.

Whether traveling long distances or simply heading to a neighboring town, be sure to check local ordinances as they vary from city to city.


  • After passing a cyclist on your right, scan over your shoulder before you merge back into the lane.
  • Be sure not to underestimate a bicyclist’s speed.
  • When turning left, yield to an oncoming cyclist just as you would any other vehicle.
  • When turning right across a bike lane, scan over your right shoulder and yield to bicyclists before turning.

Quick Stats:

  • The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that 726 bicyclists were killed and 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle-related accidents in the United States in 2012.
  • The total amount of fatalities among cyclists above makes up 2.2% of all motor vehicle-related deaths in the nation; and of that percentage, the state of Texas is only 3rd behind California and Florida with 56 bicyclists killed by a motor vehicle.
  • In 2012, The League of American Bicyclists ranked Austin 18th in the country for pedestrian danger.
  • A 20 mph crash with a bicycle or pedestrian has a 5% fatality rate; 30 mph, the fatality rate jumps to 45%. At 40 mph, the fatality rate is 80%.
  • The total cost of bicyclist injury and death in the US is over $4 billion per year (National Safety Council).

The 2014 League of American Bicyclists Report showed that among the fatal crashes where an additional factor was reported for the driver…

42 % of those drivers were reported to be operating their vehicle in a careless or inattentive manner
36 % of those drivers were reported to have committed hit and runs
12 % of those drivers were reported to be under the influence of alcohol and other drugs

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