Loop Etiquette: Are you driving the right way?

SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — We’ve all gotten into a screaming match with our steering wheel after another driver seemed to block you from merging on the loop or when two cars almost collide because a driver does not yield to the exit ramp. But could you have been at fault?

San Angelo Police Officer Richard Espinoza shared with Concho Valley Homepage the ‘proper etiquette’ that should be followed when driving on highways in San Angelo.

Entering and Exiting

When it comes to merging onto Loop 306 or the Houston Harte Expressway, most drivers may think that it is the responsibility of other drivers who are on the highway to slow down or switch lanes for those merging. However, Officer Espinoza shared that that is not the case.

In Texas, it is the other way around.

“The actual responsibility of the safe merging is going to fall onto the person entering onto the loop,” Officer Espinoza explained. “In other words, the actual person on the loop, if they are in the far right lane, has no obligation from a legality aspect to actually allow somebody to merge onto Loop 306 or Houston Harte.”

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Drivers merging need to adjust their speed accordingly to vehicles traveling on the roadway to safely enter.

“The actual on-ramp is meant for you to get up to speed, to the 65 mph speed limit on Houston Harte or Loop 306,” the officer said. Much like the on-ramp, drivers are responsible for slowing down to the correct speed when exiting the highway.

Graphic from the Texas DPS showing which vehicle has the right of way when entering a highway.
Graphic from the Texas DPS showing which vehicle has the right of way when entering a highway.

Exiting a highway in San Angelo can also be stressful when drivers on the access road do not yield.

“The actual responsibility falls on the driver on the frontage road to yield to that traffic coming off,” said Officer Epsinoza. Furthermore, anyone who is driving along the frontage road next to Loop 306 or Houston Harte must yield to vehicles that are exiting the highway at the present yield sign.

Espinoza explained, “It is their responsibility to yield and allow them to safely gain access to the frontage road.”

Officer Espinoza reminds drivers that although yield signs are not stop signs, drivers are advised to take a second look to ensure no vehicles are coming off the highway. “There are blind spots and we always want to make sure people take that second look, actually look over their shoulder to see if any traffic is coming before actually going through it.”

Emergency Vehicles and Road Crews

“Believe it or not here in town we have a lot of instances where somebody sees a police car or an ambulance with lights and sirens going down the road and their immediate reaction is to just stop exactly where they are at,” the San Angelo officer explained.

Officer Espinoza asks the public to not slam on their brakes as it can hinder first responders’ ability to continue through traffic. Instead, drivers are reminded to move to the right-hand lane and slow down so emergency vehicles can get where they are needed safely.

“We don’t want to get involved in any accidents because we are no help to anybody if we get involved in an accident heading to an emergency situation,” said Espinoza. “So nonetheless, what we want to advise the public is to slow down, safely move over if you have the ability to do so. Free up that left-hand lane for us to be able to safely navigate around you.”

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Even in intersections, drivers are reminded to stop and move over when possible if sirens can be heard so fire, EMS and police can safely navigate through.

As warmer weather slowly makes its way to San Angelo and the Concho Valley, many road crews will be out and about mowing grass and cleaning up litter.

“A lot of those crews typically have a sign that says ‘road work ahead’ or ‘road crew ahead’. Please pay attention to that,” Officer Espinoza said.

Drivers are reminded to take caution when coming across these crews on Texas highways or other roadways in the area.

“Their goal as far as working on the roadways or structures along the highway is to go home just like it is ours.”

The San Angelo Police Department reminds drivers to pay attention when driving, pull over safely when necessary, and be on the lookout for road crews, emergency vehicles and school buses while driving in San Angelo.

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