I drive a stretch of highway where a portion of it is signed “NO TRUCKS LEFT LANE”. The road has three lanes and trucks are supposedly not allowed in the far left (fast) lane. But…there are always trucks in that lane anyway, often speeding, passing cars, etc.
What gives? Are traffic violations just a harmless slap on the wrist for truckers? I had thought they can lose their license a lot easier than a car driver can for violations, due to the truck being so much more capable of doing massive harm in a crash.
I think it’s more like they think it’s worth the risk. Truckers tend to be given unrealistic time tables to get to places. The assumption is made that they can drive the full speed limit the whole way. But, of course, with traffic, this is not always possible.
If a trucker gets too far behind often enough, he will likely be fired. Many think it worth risking a ticket to keep their job. The main consequence for the ticket is not going to be any worse than the consequence for being late.
At least, that’s how my trucker friends explained it to me.
There is a stretch of I-40 east of Albuquerque like that. In general, the NM state police do not enforce this like other traffic laws, but leave enforcement to the State Department of Transportation. That way when the trucks get pulled over, they can check the log books, scale tickets, and other trucking specific requirements that the NMSP are not really trained, and don’t want to take the time to check. In addition to the fine, this costs the trucker’s time, which, as mentioned above, may be a more effective incentive than the cash.
In one case I even saw them using a mobile scale on a truck they had pulled over. There is a pretty steep grade, and they have a pretty good idea how fast the trucks should be able to pull it if they are not over-weight.
My impression of how these laws are enforced (based on several decades of driving in East Coast states) is that they are monitory, not prohibitory: less “Do not use the left lane” than “Do not impede traffic by running in the left lane.” In other words, if a truck is traveling at normal highway speed and has to overtake and pass a slower vehicle, it can (and should, if appropriate) certainly use the left lane for passing, but should not consistently travel in the left lane and thus impede motorists who may be driving vehicles that signage allows a higher legal maximum speed (“Speed limit 65 / Trucks 55” and the like). In general, highway patrols use common sense – they do not want big rigs speeding, and they do not want them backing up traffic, but they will not ticket a truck passing another truck and using the left lane to do so, as a general rule.
Having worked in the trucking industry in the past, this is so far from the truth that it is laughable. Truckers are paid by the mile. So there is an innapropriate incentive to speed to so that they get paid more for less time. Many large trucking companies put speed regulators on their trucks to limit this type of activity and improve safety. A mechanically minded person can figure out ways to override the restrictor, and many drivers do. This is one sure-fire way for a trucker to be fired.
I live in Alabama and have to drive back and forth on I-20 East every day…there are signs up that say TRUCKS USE LEFT LANE…can someone please explain this nonsense to me the 18 wheelers using the left lane???You cannot get around them hardly as traffic is very heavy on this interstate and signs are telling them to use the left lane…I do not understand this at all am I the only one that is fed up with this???:mad:
Heavy traffic, that’s they key. During construction season, we see those signs in Michigan when lanes are closed on high-density roads. The reason they’re told to go into the left lane is so that people can exit or enter the freeway without getting themselves entangled with the truck. Granted, it’s not usually the truck’s fault, but many people lose all sense of patience when confronted with a truck, and so they do reckless and stupid things, like try to beat them. There’s also the consistency of speed when trucks don’t have to suddenly decelerate, and then be unable to get back up to speed again. It works.
I saw an accident where a car was closely following a truck in the right lane because the car was getting off at the next exit. When the exit lane started, the car pulled into it and ran into the stopped cars that were backed up in the exit lane due to heavy traffic.
Around here (MI) the signs I see usually say “Trucks Keep Right” not a flat out “No Trucks Left Lane”. I wonder if that makes a difference, legally.
Of course, trucks are also supposed to keep it under 60mph, but you’ll probably get passed by quite a few even if you keep it to the car limit of 70. They gotta pass you somehow, so left lane here they come.
Another possibility is that, on that particular stretch of highway, the trucks have used the right lane for so long that the right lane has received significantly more wear than the left lane. In order to even out the wear on the highway, they may have posed the “Trucks Use Left Lane” signs on a certain stretch of road, for a certain period of time.
I note this because that’s exactly what the state of Wisconsin did on a stretch of I-90/94 north of Madison some years ago. (Eventually, the entire roadway was repaved, and trucks went back to using the right lane.)
From when I worked the truck gate and talked to a lot of truckers;
Some states, like Illinois, will pull you over and ticket you for being in the left lane, even if you are passing someone (but likely only if you’re not in any great hurry to pass).
Company schedules aren’t always logical. I spoke to a guy who was given five days to get from Duluth to Minneapolis (about a 4 hour drive or less) and then ONE day to get to Seattle. (Essentially, the schedule had it backwards).
I don’t know, but if my experience on California highways is anything to go by, they don’t care too much about some of the truck-specific rules.
California freeways have speed limits of 65 mph most of the time, and 70 mph in places. They also have signs that say:
AUTOS WITH TRAILERS/TRUCKS 55 MAXIMUM
Except in heavy traffic, or on long uphill stretches, where they will often be forced to slow to a crawl, i don’t think i’ve ever seen a truck doing 55 on a California freeway. And if you’re driving on the I-5 through the Central Valley, and are going less than about 75 mph, you’re very likely to have a large truck sitting right on your ass, urging you to higher speeds.