Need to Know Information About Houston and the Region
Other fees might include the safety inspection of your vehicle (varies with year and model), any needed repairs and any notary fees. The newcomer’s county tax assessor will have the most recent information. Registration and license tags also must be renewed every 12 months. Texas residents can renew registration and tags by mail, in person or online. For more information about fees, visit the Web site at

Every 12 months, all Texas automobiles must undergo a safety inspection. New automobiles have a sticker that is effective for the first two years, after which the automobile must be inspected every 12 months. State-regulated inspection stations carry a designation as such and can include dealerships, garages or auto service centers. A vehicle that passes inspection will be issued a sticker that must be displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the front windshield.

Seat Belts and Child Safety
In Texas, the law requires drivers and front-seat passengers in all vehicles to be secured by a safety belt. Children under 17 years old must be secured with a safety belt or in a child safety seat, whether they are sitting in the front or back seat. A child less than 8 years old and less than 57 inches tall must ride in a child safety or booster seat. A safety belt violation can result in fines ranging from $25 to $250, plus court costs.

— Safety Seat Guidelines
Safety belts are designed for adults, not children. Use a booster seat to lift your child up and prevent severe injuries in a crash. If necessary, view an informational video about the proper use of child safety seats or call Safe Riders at 800-252-8255.

Follow these guidelines when buying the proper seat for your child:

Birth-1 Year, Up to 35 Pounds
  • Use a rear-facing seat until your baby reaches the weight limit or height limit of the seat.
  • Secure the chest clip even with your baby’s armpits.
  • Fasten harness straps snugly against your baby’s body.
1-4 Years, 20 to 40 Pounds
  • Use a forward-facing seat for as long as the safety seat manufacturer recommends it.
  • Fasten harness straps snugly against your child’s body.
  • Secure the chest clip even with your child’s armpits.
  • Latch the tether strap to the corresponding anchor if your vehicle has one.
4-8 Years, Over 40 Pounds
  • Use a booster seat.
  • Fasten the lap belt across your child’s thighs and hips, not stomach.
  • Strap the diagonal belt across the chest to rest on the shoulder, not the neck.

For information about child safety seats, call Safe Riders at 800-252-8255.

Use of Cell Phones
All types of cell phone usage are allowed if you have a driver’s license with full privileges. However, novice drivers in the beginning and intermediate phases of the graduated learning process cannot use cell phones while behind the wheel. Also, school bus drivers must avoid cell phone use while passengers are aboard. A tentative state law (currently in effect in select cities) prohibits talking on a handheld cell phone while driving in an active school zone.

Houston Highway System

The Houston region offers one of the Southwest’s most extensive freeway and toll road systems. In the Houston region, 739 miles of and expressways are available – 61 percent of the planned 1,217-mile freeway/expressway system. For starters, Houston has more miles of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes than any other city in the nation. HOV lanes are only one piece of the puzzle. In the past several years, billions of dollars have been spent to build or improve toll roads, arterial streets and transit ways and to rebuild and widen every major freeway in Houston. Six freeway corridors contain HOV lanes. The region’s HOV system covers 112.9 lane miles.

Houston is the crossroads for Interstates 10 and 45. Other major highways serving Houston are Loop 610, U.S. 59, U.S. 290, U.S. 90, Texas 288, Texas 225, Hardy Toll Road, Sam Houston Tollway and the Grand Parkway (Texas 99).

Houston also lies along the route of the proposed I-69 NAFTA superhighway that will link Canada, the U.S. industrial mid-west, Texas and Mexico.

Toll Roads
Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) is a division of the Harris County Public Infrastructure Department and oversees three toll roads designed to increase mobility. Harris County voters created HCTRA through a bond referendum in 1983, authorizing up to $900 million in general obligation bonds. Once the bonds are retired, the roads will become part of the Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation. The Harris County Toll Road system covers approximately 103 miles of roadway in the Houston / Harris County area. There are currently three major toll roads. For information about using the toll roads, other links and and buying an EZ TAG, visit

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