With truckers in mind, Tennessee revises left lane law

June 2020

Keith Goble

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Concern about left lane use is a constant area of focus around the country. Tennessee is one state to take action this year to address the issue.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the National Motorists Association say that blocking the left lane, whether intentional or not, results in reduced road safety and efficiency.

A new Tennessee law set to take effect July 1 covers travel in the far left lane.

In the days leading up to their closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee General Assembly voted unanimously to approve a bill that is touted to extend the state’s left lane use rule to benefit commercial drivers. Gov. Bill Lee later signed it into law.

State law already prohibits drivers from hanging out in the far left lane on interstates and highways with three or more lanes in each direction. Drivers not overtaking or passing slower vehicles must stay to the right. Violators face $50 fines.

Sponsored by Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, and Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, HB618/SB1497 is intended to further help keep traffic moving. The new law revises the left lane rule to apply on roads with two or more lanes.

Windle said he introduced the bill at the request of truck drivers, to protect truck drivers.

“This bill simply makes Tennessee’s highways safer for the men and women who get up every morning and go to work driving a truck on our highways,” Windle said during House floor discussion. “It’s the very least we can do to try to make it safer for the professionals that haul our food, fuel, and other things for our families.”

Windle assured legislators the revision would not be used as a method to “pick on” motorists.

“It simply is a way to protect our truckers in Tennessee.” LL

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.