Jason Stephens | April 12, 2022 | Texas Law
Texas does not have a statewide law prohibiting trucks from driving in the left lane. But it has three laws that give the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and local governments the authority to pass local restrictions.
This authority has led to truck restrictions on over 400 miles of highways in Texas. These restrictions have largely happened in large cities with busy roads, such as Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
Here is some information about left-lane restrictions on large trucks traveling in Texas.
Truck Restrictions and Safety
Left-lane restrictions on trucks accomplish a few goals:
- Encourages truck drivers to slow down
- Reduces lane changes by trucks
- Improves traffic flow by keeping slower traffic to the right
Importantly, studies show that reaching these goals can improve safety. In 2000, researchers found truck accidents dropped by 68% in Houston, 78% in Dallas, and 22% in Fort Worth after the implementation of truck-lane restrictions.
How Trucks Can Use the Left Lane
The Texas Motor Vehicle Code states that the left lane should be used for passing only. It also restricts any vehicle from traveling at a speed that impedes traffic. Finally, it gives local governments the power to ask TxDOT for the authority to designate highways for truck-lane restrictions.
TxDOT studies each request and decides whether to grant it. If TxDOT grants the request, it works with the local government to place signs notifying truck drivers of the restrictions.
These restrictions do not prohibit trucks from using the left lane in all circumstances. Instead, they prohibit trucks from using the left lane for any reason other than passing.
Although Texas law does not specifically address the issue, truck drivers can also use the left lane for safety reasons. For example, if the right lane has debris or a disabled vehicle in the roadway, a truck driver can move into the left lane to avoid a collision.
Locations of Left-Lane Restrictions
Texas focuses on restricting trucks in crowded urban areas. Some of the earliest lane restrictions were on eastbound I-10 in Houston, I-20 in Dallas, and I-30 in Forth Worth.
Since then, left-lane restrictions have been implemented on many interstate freeways, including I-45 in Dallas and Ellis Counties and I-820 in Tarrant County. Left-lane restrictions have also been imposed on smaller highways, including US-77, US-83, and US-281 in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties.
Enforcement of Left-Lane Restrictions
If a truck driver uses the left lane as a travel lane, the police can cite the truck driver. Houston has a dedicated Truck Enforcement Unit that patrols highways with truck-lane restrictions and issues citations to drivers who violate the restrictions. The Texas Highway Patrol can also issue citations to truck drivers who violate left-lane restrictions.
All highways with truck restrictions must post signs that state “No Trucks Left Lane.” The signs may include times that the police will enforce the restrictions. They may also inform truck drivers of the distance covered by the lane restrictions.
The police can issue a citation to a truck driver even if the truck does not impede traffic. All drivers must follow posted traffic signs. If a truck driver uses the left lane to travel, the police can cite the driver simply for not following the signs. The citation carries a fine of up to $200.
Relevance of Truck-Lane Restrictions in Truck Accident Cases
If you are hit by a truck that was using the left lane improperly, the legal violation by the truck driver may serve as evidence of the driver’s negligence. You prove negligence by showing that the truck driver failed to exercise reasonable care. By violating the lane restrictions, the driver may have acted carelessly.
Contact Our Truck Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX – Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
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