New Mexico bill aims to restrict left lane use for truckers

February 8, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


Following a failed attempt in 2022, lawmakers in New Mexico are once again considering legislation that would prohibit commercial vehicles from traveling in the left lane on certain highways in the state.

On Jan. 17, Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, introduced SB102. The bill would require tractor-trailers to stay to the right on any highway with two lanes or more. Trucks would still be allowed to use the left lane for passing. Violations would result in fines of up to $250.

During a recent Senate Committee meeting, Munoz said the congestion and backups on the state’s highways and interstate caused by truckers is more than just frustrating.

“It’s dangerous,” Munoz told the committee. “You get on I-40, and you’re going along at 75 miles an hour, 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.”

During that meeting, the committee unanimously voted in favor of the bill.

This isn’t the first time Munoz has attempted to pass legislation prohibiting left lane use by commercial vehicles.

In 2022, the Senator authored a similar bill that was overwhelmingly approved by both the state House and Senate. However, the bill received a pocket veto when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham chose not to sign it into law.

New Mexico State Police Lt. Wendy Carpenter-Graft told KRQE News that keeping semis out of the left lane would help alleviate some of the issues with congestion.

“If we cut it down to the right lane, or we were to add a lane, it would help New Mexico a lot,” Carpenter-Graft said. “Even though we’re a very spread-out state, and there’s not a lot of people here, the commercial traffic is still the same in every other state as it is in New Mexico. So, we have to accommodate for that.”

The bill will now move to the House for consideration. If passed, the proposed legislation would go into effect on July 1. LL