Are you up to speed on the new vehicle-related laws recently passed for 2018? Some of these new Texas laws might factor into disputes over traffic accidents in Houston this year. Being aware of these changes will keep you on the right side of the law when you’re on the highway.

Here are the new traffic laws Houston residents should know about:

Texting While Driving (House Bill 62)

This law went into effect on September 1st of 2017 and prohibits texting while driving. There are exemptions for using a navigation device or stereo controls. A first-time offender receives a fine of $25-$99, while repeat offenders can expect fines of $100-$200.

If an accident is caused by texting that results in serious injury or death, the driver can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This means a fine up to $4,000 and a jail term up to one year. Texas is the 47th state to pass such a law, so take heed wherever you may drive.

Good Samaritans and Civil Liability (House Bill 478)

This law is intended to prevent a child or disabled person from being forgotten in a hot car. In Texas from 1998-2017 more than 114 people had perished from heat stroke in a vehicle.1 Now anyone who witnesses a person in distress inside a vehicle may break in to provide assistance and not be held liable for damages.

Uber and Lyft Regulations (House Bill 100)

This new law requires drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to obtain permits and comply with state regulations, including having proper insurance, a valid driver’s license, and passing a criminal background check. The language also allows drivers to refuse service to unruly passengers, but not for discriminatory reasons. Service animals must be accommodated unless the driver has a medical exemption.

Autonomous Vehicle Regulations (Senate Bill 2205)

This law allows the Texas Dept. of Public Safety to regulate automated vehicles and allows driverless vehicles to be tested on Texas roadways. Allowing this testing is a step toward self-driving vehicles being used or produced in Texas.

Verification of Driving Without Car Insurance (Senate Bill 1187)

This change requires a police officer to make an attempt at verification of an existing insurance policy before issuing a ticket for driving without required insurance.

More Trailers and Mobile Homes Exempt from Safety Inspections (Senate Bill 1001)
This bill changes the weight threshold for exemption from state safety inspection requirements from 4,500 pounds to 7,500 pounds. This change allows more vehicles to operate on Texas highways without a safety inspection.

Traffic accidents in Houston this year might involve some of these new Texas laws for 2018. Maybe the other driver was texting while driving or operating an Uber vehicle without the right permits and insurance. Perhaps a damaged motor home dropped pieces on the highway causing an accident.

No matter how complex the situation, our experienced attorneys will provide the support and legal advice you need during this stressful time. At Johnson Garcia LLP, we fight for the compensation you deserve and your first consultation is free, so call us at (832) 844-6700!