Driving Toward Safety

The Latest Texas Transportation Laws Aimed at Increasing Safety on the Roads

March 18, 2024 Photo

In an effort to improve traffic safety and address volatile conditions concerning transportation, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott signed two significant transportation bills into law in 2023. House Bill 1885 grants the Texas Transportation commission the authority to establish temporary speed limits under specific circumstances, while House bill 2190 brings a crucial change in the terminology used to describe transportation-related incidents. These legislative updates aim to increase safety and promote a more precise understanding of road situations.

House Bill 1885: Temporary Speed Limits for Changing Conditions

House Bill 1885 marks a pivotal step in empowering the Texas Transportation Commission, the overseeing body of the Texas Department of Transportation, to establish temporary speed limits in specific scenarios. These situations include inclement weather, road construction, congestion, and other conditions affecting the safe movement of traffic. To ensure a measured approach, temporary speed limits must be based on a comprehensive engineering and traffic assessment before the temporary speed limit is issued.


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The legislation introduces the concept of a variable speed limit program, allowing the temporary lowering of prima facie speed limits. Such adjustments can address real-time challenges, promoting safer driving conditions. Temporary speed limits may vary for different portions of a highway and be effective during designated periods of the day or night, as deemed necessary by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Importantly, the law specifies that these temporary speed limits may not be less than 10 miles per hour below the prima facie speed limit on the relevant highway segment. Furthermore, clear signage must be used, with notices posted not less than 500 feet but not more than 1,000 feet before the point where the adjusted speed limit takes effect. Either a portable or stationary sign may be used to display the message. An electronic sign over the freeway is also acceptable. House bill 1885 became effective on September 1, 2023.

House Bill 2190: Updating Terminology for Transportation Incidents

House Bill 2190 addresses the terminology used to describe transportation-related incidents throughout the Texas codes. This legislation replaces the term "accident" with "collision." Although this may seem like a minor change, the law reflects an attempt to convey a more accurate depiction of the seriousness of vehicle collisions on the roadways. The bill responds to concerns raised by highway safety advocates, who argue that terms like "collision" or "crash" better convey the gravity of these incidents.

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The change in terminology is expected to instill a heightened awareness of road dangers and encourage precautionary measures. The bill aligns with the language already utilized by both the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. House bill 2190 was signed by Governor Abbott and went into effect on September 1, 2023.

Texas has taken significant action in an effort to enhance road safety with the enactment of House Bill 1885 and House Bill 2190. The empowerment of the Texas Transportation Commission to establish temporary speed limits in response to volatile weather and traffic conditions reflects a commitment to adaptive traffic management. Concurrently, the shift in terminology from "accident" to "collision" in House Bill 2190 reflects a broader understanding of transportation incidents, encouraging a culture of increased caution and preventative measures on the state's roadways. These legislative updates represent the state's increased focus on creating a safer and more informed driving environment for all Texans.

About The Authors
Daniel J. Paret

Daniel J. Paret is a Partner at Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP. dparet@wshblaw.com

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CLM’s Transportation Committee provides education, training, and solutions on significant current commercial and personal transportation issues facing insurance carriers, corporations, and other entities and individuals.

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