Alabama truck lane restriction proposed at statehouse

December 29, 2017

Keith Goble


An Alabama state lawmaker is again pursuing left-lane restrictions to be imposed on certain highways for professional drivers.

State law already requires vehicles traveling below the posted speed limit on interstates and U.S. highways to stay to the right.

Rep. Tommy Hanes, R-Scottsboro, has filed a bill for consideration during the upcoming regular session that would apply a blanket lane ban on commercial trucks. Specifically, his bill would prohibit vehicles with three or more axles from driving in the left lane on the state’s interstates and U.S. highways with at least two lanes of traffic in one direction.

Hanes offered a nearly identical bill during the 2017 regular session. The effort failed to advance from the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

His new bill includes an exception for affected vehicles capable of completely passing other vehicles within 2 miles. The 2017 version only allowed 1 mile to complete the maneuver.

The ban would also apply along roadways with at least three lanes of traffic in the same direction.

Exceptions would apply for traffic congestion, inclement weather, complying with another law, exiting the roadway to the left, paying a toll, and operating a commercial vehicle within the corporate limits of a municipality.

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, say the legislation unnecessarily jeopardizes the safe and efficient movement of people and goods.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs, previously communicated to Rep. Hanes that truck drivers contribute a significant amount of money to federal, state, and local transportation accounts and they have every right to use any available lane.

“If the left-hand lane is open, commercial trucks should be free to use it and be held to the same standard as every other motorist,” Matousek said.

He added that Alabama’s existing keep-right law is an appropriate policy to ensure safety and maximize efficiency.

“Legislating based on some perceived annoyance sets a dangerous precedent and is bad public policy.”

HB4 awaits consideration in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee for the regular session that begins Jan. 9.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama, click here.