A push to prohibit large trucks from the far left lane on certain highways in Virginia has drawn the attention of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
Virginia law already requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Authorities are also able to restrict trucks from the left lane on interstates with three or more lanes in one direction. Truck lane restrictions are also in place along all of Interstate 81.
OOIDA has nearly 3,000 members residing in Virginia, and thousands more who travel along the state’s roadways daily.
On the behalf of truckers, the Association communicated to Virginia House lawmakers in recent days the concerns of professional drivers about two bills limiting lane use.
Delegate Danny Marshall, R-Danville, has offered one bill, HB201, to authorize communities throughout the state to enact left-lane restrictions for commercial trucks on highways.
A second bill from Delegate Richard Bell, R-Staunton, would prohibit trucks from accessing the left lane on Interstate 64 in the area of Afton Mountain. HB178 would impose mandatory $500 fines for violators, and occurrences would be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said that highways are intended to safely and efficiently enable the movement of people and goods.
“Truck drivers contribute a significant amount of money to federal, state and local transportation accounts, and they have every right to use any available lane,” Matousek said.
“If the left-hand lane is open, commercial trucks should be free to use it and be held to the same standard as every other motorist.”
He added that Virginia’s existing keep-right law is an appropriate policy to ensure safety and maximize capacity.
A separate bill in the Senate Transportation Committee would make it more difficult for truck drivers to get retribution from crooked tow and recovery operators.
Sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, SB141 would remove the ability of motor carriers, including owner-operators, to file complaints with the state’s attorney general.
Matousek told Senate lawmakers the bill would “effectively prohibit what is arguably the largest victim of fraudulent and inflated towing invoices – that is the trucking industry – from filing a consumer complaint.
“Under no circumstance should an owner-operator or a motor carrier be denied the same rights as motorists, especially as it relates to nonconsensual towing.”
The bills await consideration in committees once the regular session begins Jan. 13.
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