OOIDA: Virginia left lane restriction for trucks a ‘bad idea’

January 14, 2022

Keith Goble


On the heels of a winter storm that jammed traffic and left some travelers on Interstate 95 in Virginia stranded for more than 24 hours, one leading state legislator wants to implement a left lane restriction for trucks during winter storms.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, wants to come up with a possible solution to help prevent a reoccurrence of the shutdown early this month on a 50-mile stretch of I-95 outside Washington, D.C.

Marsden has pointed out that a crash involving multiple large trucks played a role in the backup.

In an effort that he feels would help reduce the likelihood of a truck jackknifing, Marsden is working on a bill to keep trucks to the right when the weather turns bad.

Critics say a jackknifed truck in the right lane would still end up blocking multiple lanes of traffic. Instead, responses on social media encourage the lawmaker to pursue other actions to address safety concerns.

 Left lane restrictions a ‘bad idea’

Mike Matousek, director of state legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the left lane restriction proposal is a bad idea. Because the lawmaker pursuing the rule change is the head of the Senate Transportation Committee, it is likely to at least come up for consideration in committee.

“We’d prefer the bill just go away, but since we don’t know how that will play out we’re going to request a few changes. For example, there should be exceptions for trucks to accommodate merging vehicles, use left hand exits, and to avoid disabled vehicles on the shoulder or any other imminent safety hazard. That said, these are all reasons that lane restrictions are a bad idea to begin with.”

Virginia Department of Transportation Chief of Maintenance and Operations Kevin Gregg said during a recent transportation board meeting that several factors may have made road conditions worse during the recent shutdown.

He cited fast-falling snow, heavy traffic on I-95, disabled trucks causing blockages, and power outages. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Virginia.