States approve, nix left lane plans for trucks

February 28, 2022

Keith Goble


Legislative endeavors in two statehouses address concerns about truck travel in the left lane.


A Virginia bill to require trucks to stay to the right and out of the left lane on highways during winter storms has undergone notable revisions.

The Senate voted 26-13 last week to advance the bill that follows a January winter storm that resulted in jammed traffic that left some travelers on Interstate 95 in Virginia stranded for more than 24 hours. The bill, SB706, has since moved to the House.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, said a crash involving multiple large trucks played a role in the backup along a 50-mile stretch of I-95 outside Washington, D.C. As a result, Marsden has called for keeping trucks to the right when the weather turns bad.

The Senate-approved version called for truck drivers traveling “in certain weather conditions” to stay to the right on any highway with two or more lanes in each direction. The rule would apply to trucks with a gross weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds.

A revision made in the Senate Transportation Committee specified that trucks must abide by the rule “if reasonably possible and conditions safely permit” to drive in the right-most lane of affected highways.

Additionally, truck drivers would be prohibited from using cruise control or compression engine brakes when driving in snow, sleet, or freezing rain, or other inclement cold precipitation.

Another change would prohibit police from stopping trucks during winter weather to enforce the proposed rule covering use of engine brakes or cruise control.

Revisions to SB706 continued this week in a House Transportation subcommittee.

The transportation panel removed the lane restriction language. All that remains in the bill are the provisions addressing the use of cruise control or compression engine brakes.

The amended version awaits further consideration in the House Transportation Committee.

OOIDA says the bill is pointless.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, has said the left lane bill has been watered down to the point it is useless.

“I’m not sure what purpose it really serves,” Matousek said.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, House lawmakers voted 52-14 to approve 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.

Sponsored by Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, SB174 would set a rule to mandate that large trucks traveling on interstates outside of municipalities to stay in the right lane. Affected roadways are posted at 75 mph for all vehicles.

According to a fiscal note, the change would affect 4,437 miles of interstate in New Mexico. Signs would be posted to alert professional drivers.

Violators would face $200 fines.

Truckers could merge left in affected areas when overtaking another vehicle.

Munoz said something needs to be done to address large trucks traveling below the posted speed limit on interstates. He cited travel up hills around the state.

“We have to do something. They’re trying to pass going up a hill at 65, and it just backs traffic up. It continues to be an issue,” Munoz recently told the House Transportation and Public Works Committee.

Addressing concern about enforcement, he said state police would need to use “common sense” enforcing the rule.

SB174 now heads to the governor’s desk. Senate lawmakers already approved the bill on a 33-5 vote. LL

More state trends

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of many trends among statehouses across the U.S. Here are some recent articles by him.