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Category: Central Texas

An all-way stop sign set against a blue sky and white clouds.
There are a lot of weird laws out there.

Honestly, with America being a sprawling nation, it’s practical for different areas to have different driving laws. Some terrain requires different safety than others, some cities are prone to different (bad) driving habits, and people in different areas have different takes on what makes drivers safer.

With that in mind, there are some driving laws that are just plain wacky. Here are a few of our favorites.

A sepia photo of a one way sign in front of a brick wall with a window.
Going down a one-way is OK in Alabama, on one condition.

Alabama

An old law says that drivers can go the wrong way on a one-way as long as they have a lantern attached to the front of the vehicle.

Arkansas

Don’t honk your horn at a sandwich shop in Little Rock – it’s illegal for drivers to honk “at any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are sold after 9 p.m.”

California

It is illegal in CA for women to drive in…a bathrobe?

It’s also illegal to shoot animals from a moving vehicle. Unsurprising, but quite specific.

A car with a black interior has the front driver door open, showing the steering wheel and dash panel
You might need this vital car part in Illinois … or if you want to drive at all.

Illinois

Just in case you didn’t know the steering wheel is of vital importance, Illinois made it illegal to drive without one.

A man leads a camel down a paved, dusty desert road.
Is this normal, Nevada?

Nevada

It is illegal in NV to drive a camel on the freeway. But not on city streets, where you’re free to hold up traffic to your heart’s content.

New Jersey

Dogs and other pets must buckle up in the car or at least be in a pet carrier. One too many drivers were distracted by pets sitting on their laps while driving.

Also, those who have been charged with a DUI cannot apply to get a vanity license plate if the incident was within 10 years of the application. Trivial, but their lawmakers’ hearts were in the right place, I guess.

a green gas nozzle is inserted into the gas tank of a silver car
Women still pump their own gas there. Rebels.

New Mexico

Women are not legally permitted to pump their own gas or change their own tire. Of course, that’s assuming there will be a man around to do it for them.

New York

In Sag Harbor, it is illegal to disrobe in your vehicle.

boy leans forward while roller blading down a paved road with green grass in the background
This isn’t legal in some states.

Ohio

Rollerblading on the road in Ohio is illegal. Get off the road, kids!

South Carolina

In Hilton Head, it is illegal to have trash in your car.

close up photo of windshield wipers on a clean windshield
Even if you’re (legally) driving without a windshield in Texas, you’ll still need these.

Texas

In Lubbock, it’s illegal to drive within an arm’s length of alcohol.

In Richardson, U-turns are illegal.

In Galveston, it’s illegal to drive down Broadway before noon on Sunday.

Also, across the state, it’s illegal to drive without windshield wipers. Though there is no law against driving without a windshield!

The aftermath of a collision, with a silver car facing an upside down red car on a freeway.
Accidents are expensive and often drivers rely on the other driver’s insurance to pay for the damage they caused.

By now you probably know how insurance works (hopefully). You pay monthly for a certain amount of coverage, and depending on what you pay, your insurance will cover part, or all, of your accident damage. But if you get in an accident that isn’t your fault, the other driver should have insurance to cover the damage.

Unfortunately, even though car insurance is required in almost all states, many drivers go without. This can result in additional fines or even a suspended license for uninsured drivers.

State laws

In some states, uninsured drivers are still required to cover certain costs of your accident. In New Hampshire, for example, insurance is not required, but a financial responsibility law requires individuals to show evidence that they have the resources to cover damages should an accident happen. However, buying the minimum car insurance policy is still easier and more financially responsible.

Some states also have no-fault insurance, which means that instead of determining who was to blame for the accident, each motorist is covered by their own insurance company. Your insurance pays regardless of who was at fault and you won’t have to prove it was the other driver to get covered. Texas is not one of these states, but they include Florida, New York, and Massachusetts among others.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

When you purchase your insurance, you’ll have the option to get uninsured motorist coverage (UIM). This will cover your costs if you get in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.

UIM is required in some states and required to be offered by insurance companies in some states. It’s basically an extra guarantee that your accident costs will be covered should the worst happen.

Lawsuits

Two big books and a gavel sit on a wood surface.
Going to court is an option, especially when the other driver was reckless or drunk.

If you get in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can also file a lawsuit against them. You have to build a case that shows that the other driver was at fault. This isn’t a guarantee you’ll get your bills paid, however. Many drivers don’t have insurance because they can’t afford it, let alone your medical bills. This route is often for more extreme cases of negligence and serious medical bills.

Texas requirements

In Texas, we have a minimum requirement of bodily injury and property damage liability. This will cover up to a certain amount of damages to the other driver’s car damage and medical costs. The Texas minimum coverage is 30/60/25, which means it will cover the other driver up to 30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damages.

It’s important to know what kind of insurance you have and how it will supplement your accident costs.

UIM coverage is not required in Texas, but it is a good idea to have it anyway. Even if the other motorist in an accident does have insurance, but it doesn’t fully cover your costs, UIM can make up the difference.

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Photo shows a bridge/walkway leading into downtown Austin, with cars driving by and several pedestrians enjoying the view.
Austin is beautiful to explore, but if you’re driving you might find yourself, instead, looking at someone else’s bumper.

Anyone who lives in the Central Texas area is no stranger to traffic and construction delays. Whether it’s construction, rush hour, or a wind turbine blade stuck in an intersection (yes, it’s real), traffic is all but guaranteed to be slow.

But just how slow? Texas A&M Transportation Institute has released their annual report on Texas roads for 2018, featuring the most congested roads in the state. Here are some of the highlights in Austin.

The cost of congestion

It’s apparent traffic is a problem when it makes us late to work, but it is also a problem for pollution and a waste of resources.

In Austin alone, the report found a cumulative delay of 66 million hours and 24 million gallons of wasted fuel. That’s about 37 olympic-pools-worth of gas.

Our time sitting in traffic also adds up – a commuter who spends 45 minutes a day commuting spends the equivalent of 15.6 days in the car per year. And that’s just for work travel, alone.

Worst roads

A google map of Austin with IH-35 highlighted from Ben White Boulevard to 290 N. The route shows red and orange in the downtown area.
This stretch of IH-35 was determined the most congested road in Austin for 2018. This is a Google Map from non-peak hours, which still shows a slowdown at Lady Bird Lake.

At the top of the list for Austin’s most congested roads is IH-35 from US 290 N to Ben White Blvd, where the annual delay per mile is 1.3 million hours. This is the span of IH-35 that goes from North Loop through downtown and south of Lady Bird Lake.

Anyone who has been through downtown could probably tell you it’s the worst stretch of traffic in the city, but the extent of its congestion is mind-blowing.

It is followed by the next segment of IH-35 south, from Ben White to Slaughter Lane, where the annual delay is nearly 500,000 hours per mile.

For freight-related traffic, IH-35 in Austin is also the most congested in the entire state.

Other congestion

Honorable road congestion mentions include:

  • google map of MoPac in Austin
    MoPac from Texas Loop 1 to Highway 183.

The problem

Texas A&M Transportation Institute has gathered this data since 2010 to measure traffic and monitor roadway volume and speed data, in order to reduce gridlock in the state.

The institute, along with many other sources, attribute a rising population with worsening road congestion across the state. A survey in 2016 found that 83 percent of Austinites are unhappy with our driving conditions in the city.

Many solutions have been attempted, and failed, and no feasible alternative has been proposed. Without a solution in sight, the best thing Austin drivers can do is shoot for non-peak hours to travel or use public transportation as much as possible.

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Picture shows a dark road with only the pavement, reflective lane stripes and curve markers.
Limited visibility also comes with a shorter reaction time to prevent a crash. Avoid driving in the dark, if possible.

You’re driving home and tired. To keep yourself awake, you’re jamming to your favorite rock station, but not really paying attention to your surroundings.

All of a sudden, a deer pops out of nowhere, and you to swerve around him.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It is important for drivers to revisit night driving safety and avoid accidents in situations like this. Did you know that along with the increase of drunk drivers, the chances of an accident are three times greater at night than the daytime? Whether it is rush hour or a clear road, driving safely takes a lot more effort at night.

Check out these tips to help you drive through the night safely.

Graphic explains statistics of night driving.
We can all take steps to be safer drivers, especially at night.

1. Headlight control

Turn your headlights on at least an hour before sunset. Not only does it make it easier to see in the dark, it also helps other drivers see you in the dark. Be considerate to other drivers around you and avoid using your high beams when approaching or behind another vehicle.

2. Clean headlights

A before and after photo of a foggy-looking headlight and a clear one.
Cleaning your headlights regularly can make a big difference in night visibility.

Always keep your headlights clean. Make sure they work properly; otherwise replace the bulbs as soon as possible. Without working, clear headlights, there is a greater risk of getting into an accident as someone might not see you on the road.

3. Avoid distractions

It is already difficult to see in the dark, so we want to limit as many distractions as possible. Stay off your phone and pay attention to the road and surroundings. Avoid listening to loud music to hear the approaching traffic. Since it is harder to see at night, we must rely on our other senses for a safer drive.

4. Speed control

Road sign on the side of a flat Texas road shows a normal speed limit of 80mph and a night limit of 65mph.
Slowing down at night gives you more time to react to dangers on the road.

It is harder to see where we are driving in the night than the daytime, especially in the areas without street lamps. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and avoid getting too close! Slowing down will also give you a better chance of stopping safely if a deer runs onto the road.

5. Stay up, be alert!

Continuously check all mirrors when driving for blind spots and any movements. Not only is it hard to see other motorists, it’s as difficult to see animals on the road. Avoid eating a heavy meal before driving to avoid drowsiness, and stay hydrated. If you need to take a break from driving, stop by a hospital. This is a safe area for a stop.

6. Beat the darkness

Try to leave earlier than later. When it is lighter, we are more awake and attentive to our surroundings than when we drive at night. Our vision is not compromised, and we avoid the greater risks of night driving. This will accommodate the possibility of city traffic and slow-downs as well, which may set us back to arriving several hours after dark.

We all have scary stories of driving at night. These tips can help avoid future situations and keep you safe. For more driving tips and car care, follow us on Twitter @ammcollisionctr.

auto body repairs regulation

Have you ever wondered who requires collision repair shops to be in compliance with regulations? The real answer is that there is not a comprehensive law in Texas that governs collision repair. However, there are still inspections and regulations shops must meet.

Any time you have an issue with auto body repairs made to your car, you should always speak with the management first. If this doesn’t resolve your situation, depending on the issue, there are state agencies and organizations that can assist.

Not What You Paid For

It’s always good practice to review your bill before paying and take a close look at the work that was completed. Contact the Texas Attorney General’s office if you believe you were over-charged or given repairs that weren’t needed,. They can determine if your circumstance falls under the Deceptive Trade Practices – Consumer Protection Act.

The body shop’s business practices need to be reviewed because it’s possible this may have happened to more than one customer.

Requirements for Body Shops

A body shop also has to follow environmental rules established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

These rules focus on air quality, proper waste disposal, water, and other regulations having to do with the effect on the environment. The agency ensures businesses, including collision shops, follow these rules.

AMM Collision is here for any of our customers should they have a concern over their repairs or our procedures. We welcome feedback so we can continuously improve and provide customers the best quality collision repair.

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distracted driving car accidentIn-car screens, often referred to as vehicle infotainment systems, are becoming a common built-in feature on most newer cars. Like many other devices, including cell phones, these are adding to driver distractions, and consequently leading to accidents.

The AAA Foundation conducted a study recently that showed while the technology is convenient in some ways, it results in some startling statistics related to distractions while driving.

No-texting law in the Lone Star State

The most commonly talked about distraction while driving is a cell phone. That’s why legislation was created in Texas, and other states, to address this issue. As of September 1, 2017 in Texas, it is against the law to text, read, or write messages on your phone while driving. This law refers to handheld communication devices and does not address the in-car systems.

As with any device, officials urge drivers to only focus on the road while operating a vehicle.

Greater chance of having a collision

In the past, AAA has conducted studies on driver distraction and discovered that if a driver stops focusing on the road for just two seconds, it can double the chance of having a car wreck.

The recent study found that when drivers use the in-car technology systems, they had more than 40 seconds of mental and visual distraction. And about 40 percent of drivers nationwide use these systems.

The study compared drivers using 30 different types of systems, including those that allowed web surfing and checking social media sites. Any of these can lead to a serious car accident.

No one wants to experience an accident caused by distracted driving. If you do get into an accident, AMM Collision is here to repair your car so you can safely get back on the road again.

For more helpful content, follow AMM on Twitter.

Avoid a trip to the body shop this holiday season with safe travel tipsIt’s the season for family and friends to come together and enjoy time with one another. This can mean travelling by car, along with many others who will head out on the highways and roads. Increased traffic on the roads means greater chance of an accident. here are a few safety tips to stay on the road and out of the body shop.

Be patient

Always have patience in traffic. It helps to leave early for your destination so you don’t feel rushed. Speeding on the road increases your chance of an accident, and puts others in danger too. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Don’t make the experience of the road trip more stressful than necessary.

Get a good night’s rest

Never take a road trip while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 accidents nationwide are caused by drowsy drivers.

If you do travel overnight, consider traveling a short distance and then stopping for a rest break. Do not drive if you’re having trouble focusing on the road. If that is the case, pull over somewhere you feel safe and take a break. Well-lit grocery stores, shopping centers and even casinos often have lit and monitored parking lots where no one will bother you.

Monitor the roads and weather

A white SUV drives through snowy weather on a two-lane road. Snow is falling and is on the trees and ground.
Monitor the weather in the weeks before your trip. If there is predicted to be snow or hazardous driving weather, you may want to adjust your plans to make sure you get to your destination safely.

Prior to leaving for your road trip, take a look at the road and weather conditions to determine if you might encounter any hazardous weather. Pay attention to travel warnings, and if it is unsafe for driving, wait until the conditions improve. Follow this same step on the return home.

If you do not feel comfortable driving in specific weather condition, like snow, look for alternate methods of travel or different routes so you can avoid having an accident.

Watch your surroundings

Accidents can happen on residential roads, rural roads, and major freeways. No matter the time of day, pay close attention to everything around you while driving. If you are on a busy freeway, pay attention to other cars and anything on the road. When a route takes you down a wooded area, watch for animals that could dart in front of your car. Watch out for children riding bikes or playing on the road residential areas.

For more helpful info, visit AMM Collision on Twitter.

A family of deer approach a road in a wooded area.
Deer are common in the Central Texas area. Use these tips to avoid hitting them on the road.

Annually across the country, there are more than one million deer-related accidents. The Central Texas area is no stranger to these types of collisions and as a local auto body shop, AMM Collision repairs dozens of cars involved in accidents with deer each year.

Any time you are driving, it is important to keep your eyes on the road. Pay close attention when driving in hilly and wooded areas where deer may suddenly come out and run toward cars. This is common in the Hill Country, especially in the evenings when animals are hard to spot outside your immediate line of sight.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid hitting a deer.

Pay attention

Deer typically roam more often during dusk or dawn, so pay attention if you are driving during these hours. If you are not familiar with the area where you are driving, look for caution signs that alert drivers to wildlife in the area.

Remember, if you see one deer there may be more nearby. They normally travel in packs.

Make a bright path

If the roads are not well lit and you do not have oncoming traffic, use high beams to create a brighter path and give you a better opportunity to see a deer before you come upon it.

Keep control

If you see a deer, slow down and brake firmly, but never swerve. Swerving can cause you to hit another car or lose control. Instead, brake and honk your horn loudly, which can potentially scare the animal away.

The deer may move, but since you won’t know what direction they may go, swerving can make the situation worse.

If you hit a deer…

Using extra caution can help to avoid an accident, but it still may not be enough. If you do hit a deer, call law enforcement and the local game warden.

Don’t touch the animal if it is injured as it could hurt you. It’s best to have trained professionals care for an injured deer. If the deer is dead, it is OK to move it off the road, but it is against the law in Texas to take it with you.

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A man sits in his vehicle behind the wheel, looking at his smartphone.
Texas’ no-text law makes texting and driving illegal.

Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.

For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.

Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.

Out of sight, out of mind

If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.

Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving

Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.

Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.

Know the law

City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.

With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.

The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.

Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.

For more helpful information, visit AMM on Facebook.

A technician looks under a lifted vehicle.
Have a professional auto body tech look at the used car you want before you buy. They can spot lingering flood damage.

The Texas Hill Country has seen more than its share of “100-year” floods in the past 5 years. Some cars were severely damaged from the flooding. When it comes time to replace their vehicles, car owners need to do their homework. You want to be sure the car wasn’t damaged by a flood, then repaired just enough to pass inspection so it could be sold.

If this happens to a vehicle, there is no guarantee the quick repairs were made correctly by a certified auto technician who is highly trained by auto makers to repair that specific model of vehicle. Most newer vehicles are entirely computerized in function and if a car was immersed in water for a period of time, it can do far more extensive damage than what is immediately noticeable.

Know the history of the vehicle

The car’s history may possibly tell you if the car was flooded. Vehicles that are totaled after a flood are issued flood or salvage titles. If the car was repaired to pass inspection and sell, it may have a rebuilt title. But the title may not give you the complete details you need to be confident of a used car purchase.

It is a good idea to have a used car inspected by a certified auto technician to determine the complete extent of vehicle damage.

Get a pre-owned car inspected

Unlike most collision damage, flood damage is not always visible. Mechanical components and the electrical system should be looked at by a highly skilled technician. Just because parts turn on or appear to operate, they may actually have damage. The undercarriage and engine need to be inspected as well to guarantee that it is properly working.

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