An effort underway at the Kentucky statehouse would impose left-lane restrictions on certain highways for professional drivers.
State law already requires vehicles traveling below the posted speed limit on any limited access highway of at least four lanes with a posted speed limit of at least 65 mph to stay to the right. Exceptions are made for passing, yielding to traffic entering the highway, or when it is unsafe to use the right lane.
Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, has introduced a bill that would single out commercial vehicles. Specifically, his bill would prohibit vehicles weighing in excess of 44,000 pounds from driving in the left lane on the highways with at least three lanes of traffic and posted with speed limits of at least 65 mph.
Exceptions would apply for entering or exiting a highway from the left, when necessary during construction, or when traffic conditions exist that would prohibit the safe use of the right or center lanes.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to restricting trucks from any lanes of traffic. The Association says that truckers are firsthand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs, has communicated to Rep. Richards that by restricting the movement of trucks to the center and right lanes, trucks will inevitably block entrance and exit ramps and impede motorists from safely entering and exiting the roadway.
He said that lane restrictions create the “barrier effect,” which leads to dangerous merging and lane-changing conditions, more aggressive driving, reduced following distances, and ultimately an increase in the number of accidents.
Matousek added that 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.
“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 said that Kentucky’s existing keep-right law is an appropriate policy to ensure safety and maximize efficiency.
“Legislating based on some perceived annoyance sets a dangerous precedent and is bad public policy.”
HB113 awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.
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