The Missouri House approved a transportation bill Tuesday,
May 10, that includes a ban on large trucks from driving in the far left lane
on most urban highways and interstates in the state. But House members threw
out a provision in the bill to allow police to pull over drivers for not
Later in the day, House lawmakers sent the bill back to the
state Senate for approval of changes. Senators, however, quickly refused to
sign off on it and called for a conference committee to work out differences.
If an agreement were reached before the session ends May 13,
the bill would head to Gov. Matt Blunt for approval.
House and Senate lawmakers did agree to restrict commercial
vehicles to the right lanes of highways and interstates with three or more
lanes in each direction.
Trucks would be permitted to drive in the left lane in
certain situations, such as a vehicle entering the roadway or for construction.
Sponsored by Sen. Jon Dolan, R-Lake Saint Louis, SB221 calls
for violators to face a fine ranging from $200 to $300.
If signed into law, the Missouri Department of
Transportation would be responsible for posting up to 430 signs informing
drivers of the lane ban at a cost of about $150,000, according to the Missouri
Legislature’s Web site.
The Grain Valley, MO-based Owner-Operator Independent
Drivers Association opposes lane restrictions for any class of vehicle.
Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, pointed out
that Missouri law already requires slower moving vehicles to move to the right
for faster moving vehicles.
“This law applies to both cars and trucks but there is
little to no signage throughout the state informing drivers,” he said.
“Drivers will tend to comply with policies and procedures
they know are in effect. Without appropriate signage, how in the world could
any lawmaker think drivers are going to instinctively know about state policy?”
The association, representing more than 6,000 Missouri-based
truck drivers, has encouraged its members to voice their opinion to lawmakers
about the lane ban.
The seat-belt provision sought by the Senate would permit
police to pull over drivers
for failure to buckle up. State law now allows motorists to be ticketed for
failure to buckle up only after being stopped for another traffic violation.
Supporters said a primary seat-belt law is important for
safety. Opponents argued drivers are smart enough to decide whether to wear a
Dolan, a leading advocate for the tougher seat-belt rule,
promised to keep fighting with only three days remaining in the session. He
told the Columbia Missourian the provision “is going nowhere but
the governor’s desk.”
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor