Seven states pursue left lane changes

March 31, 2023

Keith Goble


A mix of legislative pursuits at statehouses from New Mexico to New Jersey 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 Jersey

Truck travel is the focus of a New Jersey Assembly bill.

The Assembly Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 9-1 this week to advance a bill that would revise the state’s truck lane restriction.

State law already forbids trucks weighing at least 10,000 pounds from traveling in the left lane on roadways with three or more lanes of traffic in the same direction. The rule also applies to roadways under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and South Jersey Transportation Authority.

Violators face fines of $100 to $300.

Certain exceptions apply.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Egan, D-New Brunswick, A4470 would expand the rule to apply to roadways with at least two lanes of traffic in the same direction.

Additionally, fines would double to between $200 and $600. To make matters worse, the bill would require violators to appear in court. Responding to citations via mail or online would be prohibited.

Eric DeGesero spoke in opposition to the bill at this week’s hearing. He testified on behalf of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, New Jersey Propane Gas Association, and the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey.

“The bill simply boggles the mind. The purpose of this bill from our perspective as punitive is the requirement that you have to show up in court,” DeGesero said. “I’m a truck driver from Utah, and I’m unaware of a stupid New Jersey law. And I have to come back to pay a fine.”

The panel voted seconds later to advance the bill. Assemblyman Christian Barranco, R-Jefferson, was the only committee member to vote in opposition.

A4470 awaits further consideration in the Assembly.

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.

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 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.

Similar pursuits fail to advance

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 travel 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 Eighth 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.

In Oklahoma, 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.

A Senate bill 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 is likely dead for the year.


Two Florida bills cover 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 being 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.

A change made to the bill covers far left-hand lane use if such left-hand lane is a high-occupancy-vehicle lane. Specifically, if the far-left lane is an HOV lane, the lane immediately to the right of such lane or left turn lane would be the furthermost left-hand lane.

Exceptions to the lane restriction would be made for emergency vehicles and vehicles engaged in highway maintenance or construction.

The Senate version is S464.

South Carolina

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

State law prohibits any vehicle from continuous travel in the farthest left lane of multilane highways. Exceptions are made for situations that include preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another 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.

According to the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, there were 342 tickets issued in fiscal year 2021-2022 for unlawful travel in the farthest left lane.

The Senate has voted 38-1 to advance a bill that is intended to further increase the deterrent. S304 would quadruple the fine amount from $25 to $100.

Additional fine revenue would be routed to the State Highway Patrol.

The bill is in the House Judiciary Committee. LL

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