Dustin Fox of Justinian & Associates
Dustin Fox, Justinian & Associates

There can be legal ramifications that come into play when improperly passing another vehicle on a Texas roadway. In this post, I’ll talk about what is proper, and what is not, with regards to passing aonther car. From a personal injury and legal standpoint, it should be clear why this is an important topic: to help you avoid getting into a situation where you, or someone else, is injured in a car accident requiring legal help.

Whether it is passing on a multi-lane freeway, a two-lane highway, or the street near your home, there is always a safe and proper way to do so. There are many stigmas when it comes to passing and when you are the car being passed. Some cars pass aggressively, and some pass slowly and passively. Some people speed up when they are being passed.

The general rule, and the safest way to pass, or overtake, another vehicle is on the left side at a safe distance, and one may not move back to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the passed vehicle. When you are the car being passed, you should remain or move to the right in favor of the passing vehicle.

Graphic Showing Motorcycle passing car on right

Another tip from Texas Transportation Code: do not accelerate until completely passed by the passing vehicle. However, there are other situations when passing on the right is acceptable and safe. This includes specific circumstances where passing on the right is necessary, such as when the vehicle being passed is making or about to make a left turn, or when the driver is on a highway having unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles and sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction.

It’s also OK to pass on the right on a one-way street or on a roadway having traffic restricted to one direction of movement and the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.

Putting the Rules Into Practice

Even though drivers may know the rules when it comes to passing, how often is it implemented? I am originally from California, a state known for its complicated roads and fast drivers. After driving in Texas, I’ve noticed a trend when it comes to passing other vehicles.

During different times of the day, some drivers are in a hurry, and some are not. This is particually worrisome if the other vehicle is a commercial truck. Of course you want to avoid all accidents, but an accident with a commercial truck, besides being more dangerous, can get very complex when it comes to a personal injury case. However, if I am on the freeway and I begin to pass someone, I’ve noticed that some cars will speed up right when I try to overtake them. This type of response leads to more problems and dangerous scenarios.

This forces the passer to speed up even more, and if the vehicle getting passed does the same, then there are two cars speeding down the freeway in a sort of a race. It is helpful to remember that, if you are the car being passed, remain at the same speed you were going when the other car begins to pass you. Speeding up creates a dangerous situation, not only for the two drivers, but for everyone else around them.

Where Do Most Accidents Happen and Why?

Dolphin Technologies analyzed 3.22 million car trips between 2018 and 2019 and found that 25 percent of all accidents happened during the first three minutes of driving. Additionally, another 14 percent of collisions happened within the first six minutes.

traffic jam on austin freeway
traffic jams in the city, road, rush hour

In the United States, studies reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed similar findings. Approximately 52 percent of all car accidents occur within a five-mile radius of home, and 69 percent of all collisions happen within a 10-mile radius from home.

The implications are that shorter trips closer to home are among the highest for car accidents. The most common issue for why so many accidents happen near one’s home is overconfidence. When motorists are on familiar roads in recognizable neighborhoods, they may let their focus wander. They may feel like it is okay to text or talk on the phone since they have traveled the road many times.

The Problem With Distracted Driving

There is never a good time or place for distracted driving, which becomes more dangerous when the driver is speeding. Even if a street close to home has a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, many drivers will tend to go faster, leading to accidents.

In addition, people running late for work or wanting to get home quickly after work may speed to do so. I know that once I enter my neighborhood, I almost feel as if I am home already. I am guilty of being a little more careless when I get closer to home, we all are. But we need to remember that when we get careless as drivers, it can lead to car accidents and lives being injured or lost.

The Problem With Speeding

One of the most common laws that is broken in Texas is speeding. Speeding often happens when a driver tries to pass another driver, or when we are late or in a hurry. But the fines for speeding can quickly add up.

A first-time violator may be fined between $1 and $200 and if it’s a more serious speeding offense, the violator’s license may be suspended. It’s important to remember that Texas uses a presumed speed limit law, where it’s legal to drive over the posted limit, as long as you are driving safely.

Even with that in mind, we all speed when we are driving, whether it is five miles over the legal limit or more. On the freeway, cars can easily go 10-20 miles over the suggested speed limit. It’s important to remember that there are always safe ways to speed and proper areas to do it in.

Kids Playing in Street - Austin Texas

Residential areas are where you should follow the speed limit more strictly. There are homes around, other drivers, and even kids playing in the street, that can be put in danger if you are speeding in your residential neighborhood.  If you are an individual with a “heavy foot”, or you have a history of speeding or speeding violations, defensive driving courses, such as defensive driving in El Paso, Texas, can help you become a more conscious and safer driver all while dismissing a ticket or keeping insurance rates down.

It is important to remember that speeding can be necessary, but it can also be unnecessary. Find the right times when speeding is necessary so lives can continue to be saved, and the roads can remain safe.


This is not intended as legal advice from Dustin Fox or Justinian & Associates. No attorney/client relationship has been created by this blog post. I do not represent you in any capacity unless specifically agreed to in a separate writing.