Eight states pursue left lane changes

March 16, 2023

Keith Goble


There is a mix of results for legislative pursuits at statehouses around the country to address left lane use. Multiple measures focus on truck travel.

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.

New Mexico

For the second year in a row, New Mexico lawmakers have sent to the governor a bill to keep trucks to the right on interstates.

State law already requires all vehicles to stay to the right. Violators face $25 fines. Certain exceptions apply.

The House voted 60-9 on Tuesday, March 14, to advance to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham a bill to limit truck lane use. Senate lawmakers already approved it on a 30-6 vote.

The bill, SB102 would mandate that large trucks traveling on multiple-lane highways outside of municipalities stay in the right lane. Exceptions would include overtaking and passing another vehicle.

Violators would face $250 fines.

One year ago, a truck left-lane restriction bill cleared the legislature only to receive a pocket veto from Lujan Grisham.

Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, brought back the pursuit this year with minor revisions. He recently told a Senate committee that action is necessary to improve road safety.

“You get on I-40, and you’re going along at 75 mph, and a semi pulls out at 65 and tries to pass the other semi at 67, and traffic backs up for 10 miles and frustration levels with people are getting ridiculous,” Munoz testified.

OOIDA opposition

The Association says that truck drivers are first-hand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws, and, while perhaps not intended, restricting trucks from certain lanes poses serious challenges for truckers and jeopardizes the safety of the traveling public.


Meanwhile, pursuit has ended at the Minnesota statehouse to single out trucks from far left lane use.

Minnesota law already requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Violators faces $50 fines. A 4-year old law added a $75 surcharge for failure to allow another vehicle to pass, bringing the total fine amount to $125.

HF1890/SF851 called for going a step further to prohibit truck travel in the far left lane. Exceptions would apply for circumstances that include overtaking or passing another vehicle.


The same fate befell a Virginia House bill to further single out large trucks in the left lane.

State law already prohibits trucks from traveling in the left lane of any interstate highway with more than two lanes where the posted speed limit is at least 65 mph.

The restriction also applies to travel in the left-most lane on any interstate highway with more than two lanes within the Region 8 Planning District and along Interstate 81 regardless of speed limit.

Additionally, commercial vehicles are required to travel in the right-most lane when operating at a speed at least 15 mph below the posted speed limit on any interstate highway with no more than two lanes in one direction.

HB1535 called for expanding the restriction to include interstate highways where the posted speed limit is at least 55 mph.


An Oklahoma Senate bill continues forward but language that focused on truck travel was left by the wayside.

Sooner state statute limits left lane use on highways with at least two lanes of traffic in the same direction. Drivers are required to stay to the right unless passing or preparing to turn left, or for safety measures.

As introduced, SB1070 called for adding a provision to prohibit large trucks from left lane use on highways with at least three lanes of traffic in the same direction. The restriction would apply to vehicles with a gross weight rating of at least 10,000 pounds.

The bill language was overhauled to cover a separate topic. As a result, the truck travel restriction may be dead for the year.


A Florida House bill still active covers left lane use for all highway users.

Since 2014, state law prohibits travelers from driving too slow in the left lane of a multilane highway if they “reasonably should know” they are begin overtaken by another vehicle. Drivers traveling the speed limit also are required to yield to vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit.

Violators face $161 fines. Florida licensed drivers also face up to three points being added to their license.

H421 would revise the state’s left lane rule to forbid any vehicle from continuous operation in the far left lane of roadways posted at least 65 mph unless overtaking and passing another vehicle, or preparing to turn left.

Exceptions would be made for emergency vehicles and vehicles engaged in highway maintenance or construction.

The bill is in committee. An identical Senate bill, S464, also is in committee.

South Carolina

A bill halfway through the South Carolina statehouse covers left lane use on the state’s busiest roadways.

In 2021, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law a bill to modify the state’s left lane rule.

Previously, state law required any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule are made for situations that include preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.

No penalties were attached to the law.

The 2-year-old revision applies the left lane rule to situations on highways with at least two lanes when a vehicle is traveling behind a slower vehicle. Fines are limited to $25.

Additionally, commercial drivers are exempt from the rule when they are unable to move into the right lane safely due to other vehicles overtaking or passing the truck on the right, or when a truck’s driver is unable to move into the right lane safely due to a highway grade or other vehicles overtaking or passing the truck on the right.

Advocates said at the time the change was necessary because the deterrent was not enough to discourage the behavior.

According to the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, there were 342 tickets issued in fiscal year 2021-22 for unlawful travel in the farthest left lane.

Issue revisited

The Senate voted 38-1 to advance a bill to update the relatively new rule.

S304 is intended to further increase the deterrent. It would quadruple the fine amount from $25 to $100.

The additional fine revenue would be routed to the state Highway Patrol.

The bill is in the House Judiciary Committee.

Pursuits to revise left lane rules end in Kentucky and West Virginia

The Kentucky bill addressed slow travel in the far left-hand lane.

Statute requires vehicles traveling below the posted speed limit on any limited access highway with a posted speed limit of at least 65 mph to stay to the right. Exceptions are made for passing, yielding to traffic entering the highway, or when unsafe to use the right lane.

HB149 authorized $25 fines for anyone driving under the posted speed in the far left lane. Certain exceptions would apply.

In West Virginia, state law specifies that vehicles stay to the right except to overtake and pass another vehicle in the same direction.

A House bill called for prohibiting vehicles from driving slowly in the far left lane. Drivers would be prohibited from traveling slow in the far left lane of a roadway or interstate for more than 1.5 miles without completing a passing maneuver of another vehicle. LL

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