Left lane rules for trucks are a topic in two states
Transportation leaders at several state houses are pursuing changes to keep trucks out of the left lane.
In Virginia, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax, introduced a bill that would require trucks to keep to the right on freeways during winter storms.
The Marsden lawsuit follows a winter storm earlier this month that caused a traffic jam that left some travelers on Interstate 95 in Virginia stranded for more than 24 hours.
He said an accident involving multiple large trucks played a role in the backup along a 50-mile stretch of I-95 outside of Washington, DC. As a result, Marsden wants to keep the trucks on the right when the weather turns bad.
Critics say a truck jackknifed in the right lane would always end up blocking multiple lanes of traffic. Instead, the responses on social media encouraged him to pursue other actions to address security concerns.
The bill, SB706, would require truckers traveling “under certain weather conditions” to keep to the right on any highway with two or more lanes in each direction.
In addition, truckers would be prohibited from using cruise control or engine compression brakes while driving in snow, sleet, freezing rain or other adverse cold precipitation.
The bill is at the Senate Transport Committee.
H3: A bad idea
Mike Matousek, director of state legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said if Senator Marsden wanted to improve traffic safety, he should oppose his own bill.
“The SB706 may look good on paper to those who don’t know better, but in the real world it’s dangerous,” Matousek said. “While most truckers would never use cruise control when the roads are slippery, there are situations where a blanket ban on engine braking would deprive the driver of tools to stay safe.
“It just depends on a number of variables, but the last thing we need is people in Richmond making these decisions for millions of professional drivers.”
Matousek adds that restricting trucks to the right lane is a bad idea, regardless of weather conditions.
“The lane restrictions completely ignore the need to move to merge vehicles, avoid a hazard on the shoulder, or use another lane that might actually be clear of snow and ice. It is possible for the VDOT to clear the far left lane first, but technically trucks would still be required to drive in the right lane.
“Should we also expect Virginia State Police to stop trucks in the middle of a snow or ice storm? Of course not. So not only is it a bad idea, it’s impractical to apply.
Using Missouri Left Lane
A Missouri bill would expand the state’s rule on left lane use for professional drivers.
State law already prohibits trucks with a registered gross weight greater than 24,000 pounds traveling in the Kansas City or St. Louis areas from driving in the far left lane of highways with at least three lanes of traffic in each direction.
House Transportation President Jeff Porter, R-Montgomery City, is behind a bill to remove language from the current law that limits application to freeways in the Kansas City and St. Louis. Instead, HB2084 would make the rule applicable to any county in the state on roads with at least three lanes of traffic in each direction.
Matousek says truckers are direct observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws, and while it may not be intentional, efforts to restrict truck access to certain lanes pose serious challenges. to truckers and jeopardize passenger safety.
“While we are still trying to figure out exactly what this bill would do, we oppose lane restrictions of any kind,” Matousek said. “Missouri should repeal its existing lane restrictions, not potentially expand them.” LL
More status trends
Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, tracks many trends among state houses across the United States. Here are some recent articles by him.