No Left Lane for Drivers
States across the nation are submitting new laws to govern professional driver usage of far left lanes. These laws would impact nearly every OTR truck driving job in country. ready have regulations that govern motorist and truck left hand usage, but these regulations can be unclear and are not typically enforced on interstates and highways.
Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama are examples of states that have submitted laws targeting drivers specifically. If passed, professional drivers will be fined for driving in the left lane and the traffic infraction will impact the driver’s safety record.
State laws already require that slower moving vehicles stay out of the left line. Motorists should use the left lane to overtake and pass another vehicle or if they are preparing to turn.
The unique clause in South Carolina’s potential bill will require trucks to move to the right lane if another vehicle is behind them. If the law passes, the state DOT would be responsible for posting signage and informing drivers about the restriction.
In Alabama, thew new potential law would keep all trucks with three or more axles completely out of the left hand lane on interstates and some state highways.
Why target truck drivers?
Representatives argue that these changes can lower road maintenance costs and increase safety for everyone on the road. The law would protect the left lane from unnecessary wear which may decrease road maintenance costs in the long term.
However, OOIDA points out that truck drivers are wary of misguided traffic laws which can unintentionally pose serious challenges for truckers and jeopardize safety.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said that truckers contribute a significant amount of money to federal, state and local transportation accounts and they have every right to use any available lane.
What do drivers want?
If lawmakers want to impact driver safety, they should talk to drivers about what works and what doesn’t. In this case, limited left lane usage for drivers without letting them use their own discretion as a career road-user.
The main two concerns of current drivers regarding the new law are potential issues with traffic merging onto interstates and, more importantly, how violations will impact safety records and insurance rates.
Not all truck drivers are against the changes. Some say that keeping both 4 wheelers and big rigs out of left and center lanes will increase road safety overall by breaking up traffic patterns.
Several other states are considering similar laws including Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Oregon and Mississippi.