Dead: Missouri bills to bar big trucks from left lane

| 5/30/2006

Two bills offered in the Missouri General Assembly to ban large trucks from driving in the far left-hand lane on certain highways and interstates in the state have died.

Both bills remained in their chamber’s respective transportation panel when the session ended this month.

Rep. Patricia Yaeger, D-St. Louis, offered a bill – HB980 – to keep trucks with gross weights exceeding 48,000 pounds to the right on roads with two or more lanes in each direction.

Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, introduced a bill – SB758 – that called for limiting trucks with more than six wheels to the right lanes of highways and interstates with three or more lanes in each direction.

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

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.

This is the second year in a row that a lane restriction has been offered only to fail to gain passage. In 2005, the lane ban was included in a larger transportation-related bill that failed to gain passage largely due to a primary seat-belt provision that was included.

The 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.”

In addition, Spencer pointed out that Missouri law already has restrictions to keep all traffic to the right except to pass.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor