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Left lane use rule revisions made in multiple states

Aug 14, 2023

June 13, 2023


Truck travel in the left lane is the topic of multiple pursuits at statehouses. Another state has acted to address left-lane use for all vehicles.

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.

Truck travel in the left lane is the topic of a contested bill in the New Jersey Assembly.

The Assembly Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted in March to advance a bill that would revise the state’s truck lane restriction.

State law 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.

Assemblyman Joseph Egan, D-New Brunswick, is behind a bill that would expand the left lane 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, A4470 would require violators to appear in court. Responding to citations via mail or online would be prohibited.

The New Jersey Motor Truck Association and the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey say A4470 would make all New Jersey roads a “safety nightmare and traffic disaster.”

“If enacted, this bill will needlessly delay the movement of goods. Of far greater concern is the safety nightmare this will cause merging onto highways and entering and exiting businesses,” a joint statement reads.

OOIDA adds 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.

The full Assembly met recently to consider A4470 and nearly 100 other bills. Pushback from truckers leading up to the chamber’s floor session appears to have played a part in the bill not coming up for consideration.

The next Assembly floor session is scheduled for June 20. The agenda items have not been released.

New Mexico lawmakers acted recently 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 legislature sent a bill to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her signature to limit truck lane use.

Previously SB102, the new law mandates that large trucks traveling on multilane highways outside of municipalities stay in the right lane. Exceptions include overtaking and passing another vehicle.

Violators would face $250 fines.

Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, said the action was 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 previously testified.

The new rule takes effect July 1.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a bill that covers left lane use for all vehicles.

State law already reads that the left lane is for passing only. After completing a pass, travelers are supposed to move back into the right lane.

Impeding the flow of traffic in the left lane is punishable by a fine up to $200.

HB3126 specifies that returning to the original lane of travel is part of completing the passing maneuver.

The rule revision takes effect Sept. 1. LL

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