Tennessee eyes lane restrictions for trucks

| 3/24/2005

Legislation before the Tennessee General Assembly would prohibit big rigs from driving in certain lanes on certain roadways.

Sponsored by Rep. J. Chris Newton, R-Cleveland, and Sen. Jamie Hagood, R-Knoxville, a pair of bills would restrict large trucks to the right-most lanes of interstate or multilane divided highways, except when passing. Violators could be subject to a $50 fine.

Another set of bills would require big rigs to use only the second lane from the right on interstate highways that have three or more lanes in one direction, except when passing.

The measures, offered by Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, and Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, call for violators to face a $50 fine.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents 2,550 professional drivers residing in the state, opposes lane restrictions for any class of vehicle.

“Adopting lane restrictions would be an ill-advised step to take,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “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 that discourage smart, safe driving practices are just absurd.”

The far-right-hand-lane bills are HB349 and SB792. The second-from-right-lane bills are HB83 and SB129. Each bill is before its respective transportation committee.