Three states sideline efforts to limit trucks lane use
April 3, 2020
Bills in multiple statehouses that seek to limit highway lane use for large trucks are likely casualties to legislative sessions shortened or suspended due to coronavirus concerns.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that truck drivers are first-hand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws. While perhaps not intended, efforts to restrict trucks from certain lanes pose serious challenges for truckers and jeopardize the safety of the traveling public, the Association says.
One effort pursued earlier this year at the Kentucky General Assembly called for imposing left-lane restrictions for trucks on the state’s busiest highways.
State law already requires vehicles traveling below the posted speed limit on any limited access highway with a posted speed 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.
Sponsored by Rep. Myron Dossett, R-Pembroke, the bill would outlaw vehicles with more than six wheels from driving in the left lane on highways with at least three lanes of traffic.
A requirement is included for signs alerting travelers about the rule.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, says that by restricting the movement of trucks to the right lane trucks will inevitably block entrance and exit ramps and impede motorists from safely entering and exiting the roadway
He adds that truckers contribute a significant amount of money to federal, state and local transportation accounts and they have every right to use any available lane.
The bill, HB456, was in the House Transportation Committee when the legislature started limiting days at the capitol. Although some business continues, legislators are focusing on the most pressing issues for the state.
A bill in the Maryland House targeting truck traffic lane restrictions has also been sidelined.
State law requires any vehicle driving at least 10 mph below the posted speed to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule would include preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.
Sponsored by Delegate Jay Jalisi, D-Baltimore, HB1627 would require drivers traveling on roadways with at least three lanes for traffic moving in one direction to use the left lane to turn, or to overtake and pass another vehicle.
The rule would apply only to large trucks on roadways with speed limits of at least 55 mph.
The bill remained in the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee when the General Assembly shut down for a minimum of two months. The legislature was scheduled to be in regular session until April 6.
There are plans to hold a special session before June to pass any necessary legislation.
Across the state line in Delaware, an ongoing lane restriction effort is likely dead that calls for revisions to the state’s left lane use rule.
State law now specifies that vehicles traveling below the posted speed limit must stay to the right. Violators face fines starting at $25.
Sponsored by Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, SB185 would include a requirement that all traffic stay to the right. Exceptions would be made for using the left lane to pass, turn or exit a highway.
One provision in the lane restriction bill singles out large trucks. Specifically, trucks weighing at least 10,000 pounds would be prohibited from using the left-hand lane along a stretch of state Route 1 except to pass, turn or exit a highway.
The change would only apply to a 50-mile stretch of highway between Interstate 95 and the area south of Dover.
Violators would face fines up to $100. Repeat offenders would face up to $200 fines.
“The bill addresses the problem of operators of vehicles driving below the designated speed limit in the left-hand lane of state Route 1 and causing congestion thereon,” Townsend wrote about the bill.
The lane restriction bill was in the Senate Transportation Committee when the Legislature went on an “indefinite postponement.”