Ohio lawmakers to revisit singling out trucks in left lanes?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/4/2014

An Ohio House panel could soon take up for consideration a bill that would ban trucks from using the far left lane on certain highways.

Current Ohio law requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule are made for preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.

A bill in the House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee would mandate large vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds to stay in the two right-hand lanes on stretches of highway with three or more lanes in the same direction.

Exceptions to the rule would include situations when a trucker is preparing to exit the roadway from the left.

Sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Slaby, R-Copley, HB278 would authorize fines up to $100 for violators. Offenders who were recently convicted of other traffic offenses within the past year would face fines up to $500 and/or up to 60 days behind bars.

The House transportation panel held two hearings on the bill last fall. Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Gordon Johnson of Fredericktown, Ohio, and owner-operator and OOIDA Senior Member Scott Grenerth of Arlington, Ohio, testified on the bill.

Johnson told lawmakers that he uses the left lane while driving through congested areas to avoid traffic entering and exiting the roadway.

“If I run the right lane I have cars coming on the highway in front of me doing 30. If I’m driving the middle lane I have cars coming at me from both sides. They cut in front of me to get on or off the ramps,” Johnson previously told Land Line. “The left lane is the safest place to be.”

Grenerth brought attention to the state’s existing law on lane usage and questioned why new rules are sought instead of simply holding the Ohio Highway Patrol accountable for poor enforcement of the existing rule.

“Why are we encouraging more government involvement in our lives instead?” Grenerth asked committee members.

Opponents also tout a Virginia Department of Transportation study from 2007 that recommended truck lane restrictions be removed on “high-volume” interstates with at least three lanes in each direction.

Slaby is pushing to get the bill added to the agenda of an upcoming committee meeting. OOIDA encourages Ohio truckers to contact their state Representatives to voice concerns about the bill.

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