San Antonio may restrict trucks from fast lane

| 12/18/2002

Truckdrivers might have fewer lanes to use next summer if San Antonio signs on to a 1997 state law authorizing cities to restrict truckers from the fast lane of major highways during peak travel hours, The Associated Press reports.

San Antonio might implement a six-month pilot program by this summer on U.S. Highway 90 and I-10, a stretch of almost 20 miles inside the city's Loop 410, according to Monday's San Antonio Express-News.

Houston was the first to implement the rule in September 2000, restricting lanes on an eight-mile stretch of I-10, roughly from Interstate 610 to Sam Houston Parkway. Trucks were ordered to stay out of the far left lane from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except when passing other vehicles.

A Texas Transportation Institute study found that accidents decreased 68 percent on that portion of I-10 over a nine-month period, with no deaths in the crashes that did occur. Houston officials then decided to expand the lane restrictions to portions of Interstate 45 and State Highway 225.

Lance Shillingburg, director of education for the Texas Motor Transportation Association, noted that the Texas Transportation Institute's study couldn't say how much of the reduction in accidents was due to the lane restriction or how much to a presence of police.

This year, the state Transportation Department sent letters to San Antonio and 71 other Texas cities promoting the law and suggesting that they prohibit commercial trucks from driving in the left lane of major highways with at least three through lanes.

The San Antonio City Council may hold a public hearing in January on the proposal. State transportation officials and the council would have to approve the plan.

Meanwhile, state transportation officials say more than 50 percent of accidents involving tractor-trailers are caused by drivers of cars doing things such as changing lanes too quickly or being in a truck's blind spot. But they say there's a potential advantage to separating trucks and cars.