Tennessee bill would limit left-lane use

| 2/21/2008

A bill introduced in the Tennessee Senate is intended to keep most traffic out of the left lane on the state’s multi-lane highways.

Tennessee law now mandates vehicles traveling slower than 55 mph on interstates and four-lane controlled-access highways to stay out of the far left lane. Trucks also are restricted to right lanes on designated areas of highways with three or more lanes in each direction where signage is posted. The only exception is for passing slower vehicles – one at a time.

In an effort to further limit how many vehicles are in the left lane on multi-lane roadways, Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, offered a bill to require car and truck drivers to stay to the right. Violators would face fines up to $50.

Vehicles still would be allowed to use the left lane to pass or overtake slower moving vehicles or when traffic flow requires it. Making room for emergency vehicles parked along the roadside also would be allowed.

At least 20 states have similar left lane restriction rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Another bill in the Tennessee Senate is intended to make it clearer that trucks need to stay to the right on stretches of highway they are restricted to right lanes. Sponsored by Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, the bill would authorize the Tennessee Department of Transportation to paint a portion of affected roadways with the word “TRUCKS.” Arrows pointing to the right also would be painted on the pavement.

Priority would be given to segments of highways with steep climbs, limited visibility due to weather conditions or other areas deemed appropriate.

Burchett’s bill – SB3816 – and Finney’s bill – SB2701 – are in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Tennessee in 2008, click here.