Missouri bill would scrap truck lane ban

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/14/2014

Trucks traveling through Missouri could soon be authorized to use the far left lane on certain multilane highways in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Since 2007, trucks heavier than 24,000 pounds are prohibited from driving in the left-most lane of Interstate 70 within three miles of the intersection with state Route 370 in St. Charles County.

A year later, the rule went statewide. Trucks with a registered gross weight in excess of 48,000 pounds now are prohibited from driving in the far left lane of “urbanized” roadways with at least three lanes of traffic in each direction.

The House Transportation Committee voted 10-1 to advance a bill that would allow large trucks to merge left for passing only. Sponsored by Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa, HB1983 would repeal the lane rule on trucks in excess of 48,000 pounds.

Advocates for keeping trucks out of the far left lane say it makes roadways safer for all travelers.

Kolkmeyer, who owns Energy Transport Solutions in Bates City, Mo., said prohibiting trucks from using the left lane doesn’t make sense.

“I have had numerous drivers, as well as myself, behind the wheel and experience the problems with restricting trucks from the left-hand lane. What you end up with is a barricade in the middle,” Kolkmeyer told Land Line.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association agree.

The Association has sent multiple Calls to Action on the issue to Missouri truckers. In addition, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer wrote a letter to House Transportation Committee members advocating for the change sought by Kolkmeyer.

“When lane restrictions require trucks to stay in the right lane or lanes, the barrier effect is created,” wrote Spencer. “As defined by traffic engineers, the barrier effect creates obstacles for both cars and trucks trying to enter or exit the interstate forcing vehicles to try to squeeze in or out of the traffic stream.”

Spencer also pointed out that Missouri law already has restrictions to keep all traffic to the right except to pass. He said that lawmakers would be well served to require the Missouri Department of Transportation to increase signage and awareness of state law directing all vehicles to stay to the right.

The bill – HB1983 – could soon be considered on the House floor. If approved, it would move to the Senate.

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