Truck lane restrictions fail in Missouri

| 5/17/2005

A Missouri bill that included a ban on large trucks from driving in the far left lane on some highways in the state has died.

The bill was doomed once lawmakers disagreed on a provision to allow police to pull over drivers for not buckling up. Time ran out on the session May 13 before an agreement could be reached.

Senators had approved the bill with the seat-belt provision only to have House lawmakers throw it out. The Senate responded by requesting a conference committee to work out differences. The House never agreed to meet.

One thing House and Senate lawmakers did agree on was their desire to restrict commercial vehicles to the right lanes of highways and interstates with three or more lanes in each direction. However, the lane ban died with the rest of the bill.

Trucks would have been 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 called for violators to face a fine ranging from $200 to $300.

If the bill had been signed into law, the Missouri Department of Transportation would have been 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 seat-belt provision sought by the Senate would have permitted 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 seat belt.

The bill also included a provision to repeal the state law requiring adult motorcycle riders to wear helmets.