Ask 2: Is passing cars by driving on the shoulder to make a right turn at a traffic light illegal?

A green traffic light at an intersection. (Pexels)

HOUSTONAt KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.


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Ask 2: “Isn’t it illegal to pass cars by driving on the shoulder to make a right turn at a traffic light?”

Justina’s answer: If someone is speeding on the right shoulder to avoid traffic, then it is considered a violation. However, there are some scenarios where using the right shoulder is legal. We reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Stephen Woodard to get his take.

“Typically, what we are seeing is individuals using the shoulder for their own lane. You can use the shoulder to decelerate meaning slow down to make a right turn. For example, if you are two to three cars away from the traffic light and you need to make a right turn where the mall is adjacent, you can do that,” stated Woodard.

Houstonians are also permitted to drive on an improved shoulder, if necessary, when needing to:

1.           Stop, stand, or park

2.           Accelerate before using the main traveled lane of traffic

3.           Decelerate before making a right turn

4.           Pass a car that is slowing, stopped, or preparing to make a left turn on the main road

5.           Allow another car traveling faster to pass

6.           Avoid a crash

7.          Or if given direction from law enforcement


About the Author:

Justina Latimer is a New York native raised in the suburbs of Baltimore. Before joining the KPRC 2 team, she was a fill-in anchor and multimedia journalist at WSMV-TV, the NBC affiliate in Nashville, TN.