Security and Safety

Can You Drive on the Beach in Texas?

By Peter Simek 5.11.21

Many visitors from other states are surprised to find that, among the blankets and umbrellas, one of the most common sights along Texas’ beachfronts are automobiles. That’s because according to Texas law, the state’s beaches are public highways. Texans with cars tough enough to handle sand can pull out onto the beach and follow the coast. In fact, driving on the beach in Texas is one of the easiest ways to explore the shoreline, like that of South Padre Island.

But before you roll your truck or 4×4 out on the sand, make sure you know how the laws apply to beach driving and what safety procedures you need to keep in mind to enjoy your beach road trip safely.

1. All Driving Laws Apply

Texas considers beaches public highways, which means that any highway laws also apply when you are driving on the sand. This includes always wearing your seatbelt, operating a vehicle that is street legal and licensed, and avoiding hazardous and dangerous driving.

2. Beach Driving Has Its Own Unique Laws

Additionally, there are some unique rules to driving on the beach in Texas, and they are not all the same on every beach, so be sure to check before you go. Some beaches prohibit driving because of safety hazards, while others require special tags or permits. Here are some other rules of the road to keep in mind:

  • All northbound vehicles have the right of way.
  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians as well as tents, blankets, and other belongings left on the beach.
  • Drive slowly, and slow down when approaching an area where there are other parked cars or camps. Most beaches do not allow driving over a 15 or 25 mph speed limit.
  • Do not block traffic, as it can force other cars to drive on soft sand and get stuck.

3. Only Certain Vehicles Can Rough It

If you’re thinking about driving on the beach in Texas, there are a few extra precautions you may want to consider. It is recommended you don’t drive on the beach in anything except a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle. Stuck vehicles require a private wrecker service to tow them out, sometimes costing the driver several thousand dollars in fees.

You should also know that while you can drive golf carts on the beach, they are also considered vehicles and must follow all the same traffic laws.

4. Prepare for Emergencies

Because some of Texas’ beaches are quite remote, it’s also recommended that you bring emergency supplies such as:

  • Extra gas.
  • A spare tire.
  • An extra set of keys.
  • Jumper cables.

5. Know How to Unstick Your Car

It’s also a good idea to bring tools to help free your car if you become stuck in any soft or shelly sand, such as:

  • Tow ties.
  • Wood planks.
  • A shovel.
  • A 5-gallon bucket.

6. Avoid Obstacles and Hazards

Unlike your typical road, there are plenty of things you may come across during a beach drive that you need to keep an eye out for. These include:

  • Trees and debris that may have been washed ashore.
  • Drop-offs and shifting terrain caused by erosion and tides.
  • Sharp objects.
  • Sea turtles, nesting grounds, and other wildlife.

Texas beaches are home to many leisurely activities such as seashelling and surfing. No matter what kind of fun you’re up to this summer, always remember to follow beach safety guidelines and rules.

© 2021 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance