Louisiana bill would limit trucks’ lane use

| Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An effort in the Louisiana Senate would ban large trucks from driving in the far left lane on certain roadways in the state. Another effort would amend the rules to expand the use of mobile weight enforcement.

Sponsored by Sen. Dale Erdey, R-Livingston, the bill would limit tractor-trailers with at least 18 wheels to the right lanes on highways with three or more lanes in each direction. Violators would face $500 fines.

Supporters say the lane ban would allow traffic to move more freely. Opponents say research doesn’t show that lane restrictions improve highway safety. Instead, it creates traffic problems, they say.

Others point out that Louisiana law already allows law enforcement officers to ticket drivers who hold up traffic by lingering in the left lane. It is intended to stop motorists from using the left lanes of multilane highways if they are not passing other vehicles.

The rule applies specifically to roads outside of municipalities where the posted speed is at least 55 mph.

Erdey’s bill – SB341 – is in the Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee.

Another issue being addressed in the statehouse would allow the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to enforce size and weight enforcement with mobile scales. The State Police now have sole authority to use mobile enforcement.

Sponsored by Rep. Nita Rusich Hutter, R-Chalmette, the measure would amend state law that limits the DOTD to conducting enforcement with stationary scales. The state police can currently use mobile scales, and the bill would allow the DOTD also to use mobile scales.

Opponents say that allowing multiple agencies to conduct mobile size and weight enforcement would be confusing for truckers.

The bill – HB565 – is in the House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee. The Senate version – SB484 – also is in committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor