OOIDA’s Spencer: Texas truck lane ban ‘ill-advised’

| 8/10/2009

Touting the benefits of increased safety, mobility and air quality, a regional development group is proposing an expansion of truck lane restrictions on four Texas interstates. It’s a proposal that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association finds bone-headed.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is scheduled to hold three public hearings this week to discuss their plans to restrict trucks with three or more axles from using the left lanes along Interstates 20, 30, 45 and 820. Trucks would be allowed to access the lane for passing only.

Trucks now are restricted from the left lane along nearly 30 miles of I-30 in Tarrant County and I-20 in Dallas County.

And in El Paso, TX, the city council a week ago approved an ordinance prohibiting trucks from using the left lane of a 22-mile stretch of Interstate 10. Once signage is posted between Zaragoza and North Mesa in the next 30 to 60 days, violators will face $500 fines.

The effort to expand the truck-lane ban on Texas roadways has drawn the ire of OOIDA and truckers. OOIDA, which is opposed to lane restrictions for any class of vehicle, has issued a Call to Action to its Texas members.

“Adopting lane restrictions is an ill-advised step to take,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “Such restrictions invariably cause more problems than they fix.

“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.”

Owner-operator and OOIDA member Johnny Poindexter of Fort Worth, TX, said that prohibiting trucks from moving over a lane when necessary is a bad move.

“There’s going to be a lot of major accidents happen due to the fact that traffic doesn’t merge onto the freeways appropriately. They go around trucks to get into the safety lanes. It’s just going to be a bad deal around here,” Poindexter told Land Line.

Poindexter said he spent several years traveling through the Indiana-Illinois area with its lane restrictions. He fears similar consequences to what he witnessed there.

“I watched an awful lot of bad accidents happen because of left lane restrictions. I believe Dallas-Fort Worth is going to create the same thing,” he said.

Proposed truck lane restriction expansion details:

  • Interstate 20: counties of Dallas, Kaufman and Tarrant from U.S. 377 in Fort Worth to FM 740 in Mesquite.
  • Interstate 30: Tarrant County from Dale Lane in Fort Worth to FM 157 in Arlington.
  • Interstate 45: counties of Dallas and Ellis from I-30 in Dallas to FM 3413 in Ennis.
  • Interstate 820: Tarrant County from Westpoint Boulevard in Fort Worth to I-20 in Fort Worth.

Public hearings are scheduled Monday, Aug. 10, through Wednesday, Aug. 12. Once the comment period is concluded, the council will submit their results to the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT is hopeful of launching the next phase of truck lane bans by the spring of 2010.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.