Two counties petition Florida DOT for truck lane restrictions

| 6/21/2005

Despite the failure of a statewide bill that would’ve put lane restrictions on all vehicles in Florida, two counties are pushing for left-lane regulations that would only apply to trucks.

In May, Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed legislation known as the “Road Rage Reduction Act,” which required all vehicles – including four-wheelers – to stay out of the left lane, except when passing, avoiding accidents or other extenuating circumstances.

“There’s no evidence to suggest that it’s a real problem, number one,” Bush told The Associated Press. “Number two, I couldn’t get over the fact that this bill would punish law-abiding citizens that were going below the speed limit within the law. They would be penalized at the expense of someone who was going above the speed limit.”

But now, the state’s Department of Transportation has OK’d lane restrictions on trucks on Interstate 95 in St. Johns County near Jacksonville, and officials in Hillsborough and Sarasota Counties are planning to ask the DOT for similar restrictions on I-75 in their area as well, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

DOT regulations in Florida state that lane restrictions can only be implemented on roads with six lanes or more, with which both of these roads comply.

“When you put trucks in the right two lanes, and leave the left for non-trucks, the number of lane changes are reduced,” Mark Wilson, DOT deputy traffic operations engineer, told the Times.

But not all Floridians believe the restrictions will prevent crashes.

“Car drivers in left lanes who want to exit the highway must cross over several lanes full of big trucks,” James Nolan, a trucker from Ft. Lauderdale, told WTLV-TV. “This causes accidents all of the time.”

Truck-only restrictions are already commonplace on three other stretches of Florida roadway. Seventy miles of I-95 in Palm Beach and Broward Counties have been restricted since 1990. About 140 miles of I-75 in Sumter, Marion, Alachua, Columbia and Suwanee Counties have also had restrictions since 1998.

On May 2, officials with Florida’s Turnpike restricted trucks out of the far left-most lane on 27 miles of the roadway in Miami-Dade County.