Texas transportation officials have added 78 miles to the Lone Star State’s network of left-lane restrictions for commercial trucks.
Trucks with three or more axles are now banned from using left lanes except to pass or use a left-lane highway exit along U.S. 77, U.S. 83 and U.S. 281 in Cameron and Hidalgo counties. The restriction brings the network of left-lane restrictions to 443 miles of state highway in 14 counties.
The Texas Transportation Commission believes the restrictions improve safety, citing a 36-week study along eight miles of Interstate 10 in Houston in 2000 and 2001.
“Prohibiting large trucks from sustained travel in the far left lane allows passenger vehicles to move more quickly and freely in that designated lane,” commission officials stated in a press release. “It also reduces the number of lane changes and passing maneuvers attempted by passenger vehicles, thereby reducing the likelihood of crashes.”
Fines and penalties for trucks using left lanes in the restricted areas except to pass are $200 but can vary by jurisdiction, according to the study notes.
The authors of the study at the Texas Transportation Institute acknowledged that a 36-week window is not an ideal amount of time to draw a solid conclusion.
“Because of the various factors causing vehicle crashes on Houston freeways, it is difficult to draw any conclusions from crash data for a short period of time,” the TTI stated, adding that one year is a “typical” amount of time to analyze the crash data.
“However, based upon the data available at this time, the total number of crashes on this section of freeway has been decreased by 68 percent since the lane restriction was implemented.”
Further review shows that crashes involving trucks stayed about the same.
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