Missouri bills would bar big rigs from left lane

| 1/23/2006

Two Missouri state lawmakers have offered bills that would ban large trucks from driving in the far left-hand lane on certain highways and interstates in the state.

Rep. Patricia Yaeger, D-St. Louis, has introduced a bill to keep trucks with gross weights exceeding 48,000 pounds in the right lane on roads with two or more lanes in each direction.

Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, wants to limit large trucks to the right lanes of highways and interstates with three or more lanes in each direction.

Both efforts call for violators to face fines ranging from $200 to $300.

A lane ban similar to Engler’s effort was part of a larger transportation-related bill that was considered during the 2005 legislative session. The bill, however, failed to gain passage largely due to a primary seat-belt provision that was included.

Lt. Tim Hull, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol, said the effectiveness of such a lane-ban law is tough to determine because the differences in traffic levels throughout the day make it difficult for trucks to remain in one lane.

“In some cases, it might make the highway safer and in others, it might not make any difference at all,” Hull told the Columbia Missourian.

The Grain Valley, MO-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association 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 simply discourage smart, safe driving practices.”

Yaeger’s bill – HB980 – is in the House Transportation Committee. Engler’s bill – SB758 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor