By Keith Goble
state legislative editor
Large trucks traveling through St. Louis are no longer allowed to use the far left lane along a stretch of interstate on the west side of the metro area.
Trucks with a registered gross weight of 24,001 pounds or more are prohibited from driving in the far left lane of Interstate 70 within three miles of its intersection with state Route 370 in St. Charles County. Missouri 370 starts in St. Peters at I-70 and ends in Hazelwood at Interstate 270.
The affected stretch of I-70 runs between mile marker 221 and 227 in both directions. The lane restriction went into effect Jan. 1.
Violators will face as much as $1,000 in fines and/or one year behind bars. Exceptions to the rule would be made for emergency situations or road work.
Advocates for keeping trucks out of the far left lane say it will make the stretch of roadway safer for all travelers.
OOIDA leaders say that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said the Association opposes lane restrictions for any class of vehicle.
“Adopting lane restrictions is an ill-advised step to take,” Spencer said. “Such restrictions invariably cause more problems than they fix. Trucks and other vehicles need to be able to move over a lane when necessary. It’s common courtesy, but this is also about highway safety.
“When you start restricting vehicles to certain lanes, you end up with more vehicles tailgating and making unsafe passing maneuvers in all lanes. This isn’t good for congestion or highway safety. “Lane restrictions simply discourage smart, safe driving practices.”
In addition, Spencer pointed out that Missouri law already has restrictions to keep all traffic to the right except to pass.
The truck lane restriction was included in a 211-page bill signed into law by Gov. Matt Blunt in the spring of 2007.
The Missouri Department of Transportation was posting signage to alert truckers within the affected area in the days leading up to the ban. LL