Louisiana bill that died sought to ban trucks from some left lanes

| 6/10/2008

Truck drivers traveling in Louisiana no longer have to worry about the adoption of a statewide rule prohibiting them from accessing the far left lane on certain roadways.

The House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee voted Monday, June 9, to defer action on a truck-lane restriction bill and instead opted to turn it into a study resolution. The Senate had previously approved it.

Sponsored by Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, the bill – SB341 – sought to limit tractor-trailers with at least 18 wheels to the right lanes on interstates with three or more lanes in each direction. On two-lane stretches of interstates, trucks would have been restricted to the far right lane.

Violators would have faced $500 fines. Exceptions would have been made for overtaking and passing other vehicles.

Erdey told panel members the lane ban would allow traffic to move more freely. He also cited a similar rule in place on Interstate 10 over the Atchafalaya Basin.

Critics said research doesn’t show that lane restrictions improve highway safety. Instead, they create traffic problems.

Rep. John Guinn, R-Jennings, questioned the need for the proposed rule. He pointed out that Louisiana law already allows law enforcement officers to ticket drivers who hold up traffic by lingering in the left lane. It is intended to stop motorists from using the left lanes of multilane highways if they are not passing other vehicles.

The rule applies specifically to roads outside of municipalities where the posted speed is at least 55 mph.

Rep. Jean Doerge, D-Minden, told Erdey she was concerned about the effect lane restrictions would have on commerce.

“Most truck transportation has a schedule to meet. When they have to get all the way over to the right hand lane, they are going to be there with a lot of slow traffic. ... To me, you are hampering the movement of goods in the state.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor