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Are Trucks Allowed to Drive in the Left Lane?

Most of us know how annoying it can be to get stuck behind commercial trucks in the left lane of a freeway. But slow-moving vehicles on the left side of the highway are more than irritating. They can be potentially dangerous.

For this reason, in some states, large trucks are not allowed to drive in the far-left lane or are limited to using the left lane only for passing.

In this article, we will explore the rationale behind these regulations. We will also look at the safety concerns that arise when commercial trucks use the left lane.

The Dangers of Slow-Moving Vehicles In the Left Lane

Having too many drivers using the left lanes can lead to traffic issues and personal injury. Accidents on highways are more frequently caused by sudden lane changes than by speeding. When drivers of passenger vehicles come across a slow vehicle in the left lane, they may start changing lanes quickly. This can cause dangerous accidents.

Semi-trucks in the left lane can also lead to congestion in the flow of traffic. Faster drivers are then forced to slow down or merge into the right-hand lane. This can create a ripple effect, causing delays and frustration for other motorists. These situations increase the risks of aggressive driving and tailgating. Tailgating can escalate into road rage and increase the risk of rear-end collisions.

When commercial trucks drive in the left lane, they can obstruct the view of road signs and traffic signals for drivers behind them. This makes it more difficult for motorists to anticipate upcoming exits or turns. This can result in sudden lane changes and last-minute maneuvers.

Big rigs in the left lane can also have environmental implications. As the flow of traffic is impeded, vehicles may need to speed up and decelerate more often to adjust to changing speeds. This can lead to increased fuel consumption and emissions.

Designated Lanes and Truck Lane Restrictions

Some states have implemented designated lanes or truck-only lanes on interstate highways. Their goal is to improve traffic flow and safety. These far-right lanes help separate slower-moving trucks from faster passenger vehicles.

Truck-Related State Laws

Some states have passed rules of the road limiting what type of vehicles can travel in the left lane. Some laws cover all slower-moving traffic. Others target truck drivers or categorize vehicles based on weight.

State traffic laws limiting tractor-trailers in the left-hand lanes include:

  • California: The California vehicle code requires that any vehicle traveling on a California highway at a "less than normal" rate of speed must drive in the far right lane when not passing.
  • Florida: The Florida Department of Transportation states that all vehicles must use the right-hand lane if driving at less than the normal speed of traffic except when passing or turning left. Truckers may not continue to use the furthermost left-hand lane if being overtaken from the rear by a vehicle driving at a higher rate of speed.
  • Washington:state law prohibits commercial vehicles from traveling in the far-left lane on roads with three or more lanes.
  • Indiana: "Slowpoke" drivers can be fined up to $500 for driving in the left lane highway.
  • New Jersey: Drivers in New Jersey will encounter signs prohibiting truckers from using the left lane. Violators can be fined up to $300.

Many other states have passed or are considering introducing similar legislation. This legislation would limit what types of motor vehicles can travel in the passing lane.

Legal Implications and Personal Injury Lawyers

Unfortunately, truck accidents sometimes lead to severe injuries or wrongful death. A personal injury lawyer can help you pursue compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.

Truck accident attorneys are well-versed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations and state-specific CDL requirements. They can help establish negligence or fault in a truck accident case. By demonstrating that a truck driver violated FMCSA regulations or state laws, such as truck-only lane restrictions, a personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong case.

Get Legal Help from a Truck Accident Law Firm

If you've suffered serious injuries in a truck accident, there may be legal remedies available to you. You may be able to sue the trucking company or the commercial driver for negligence.

Speak with a car accident injury attorney near you today for a case evaluation.

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