Are Trucks Allowed to Drive in the Left Lane?
You’re driving down the 58, maintaining the speed limit in the far-left lane. You’re going to be just on time for work. Suddenly, a large commercial truck merges into the lane in front of you. You hit your brakes to accommodate the slower speed and are annoyed because now you’ll be late for work or have to pass the big rig using the middle lane. More importantly, a truck driver who broke California’s roadway laws has put you in a potentially dangerous position. Here’s what you need to know about trucks in the left lane in The Golden State. For more information, speak with an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer.
Rules of the Road for Truckers
California Vehicle Code Section 21654 states that any vehicle traveling on a highway at less than the average speed of moving traffic must drive in the right-hand lane, as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb. The only time a slower-moving vehicle can leave the right-hand lane is to overtake and pass a different vehicle traveling along the same directional path, or if preparing to make a left-hand exit or turn. This law applies to all large trucks (those with three axles or more).
In California, motor trucks, truck tractors with at least three axles, and truck tractors pulling another vehicle must use designated truck lanes at all times if they exist. They cannot come out of designated lanes unless passing or turning. If no designated lane exists on the roadway, the truck must remain in the farthest right-hand lane, or the second-to-right-hand lane if the highway has four or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. To pass, a truck must use the designated lane, right-hand lane, or second-to-right lane.
If a large truck drives in the left lane, the driver has broken a California roadway law and may face penalties. For a first offense, the driver may face fines of up to $100. If the driver receives a second offense within one year, the fine is up to $200. For a third offense in one year, the fine increases to $250. These are steep fines compared to similar laws in other states. The only evidence law enforcement needs to charge a driver with this infraction is that the vehicle was traveling at a slower speed than the rest of traffic in the same direction and was driving in the left-hand lane.
Dangers of Trucks in the Left Lane
There is a reason that all highways use the rule that faster-moving vehicles use the left lane, and slower-moving vehicles use the right lane. On a multilane highway, dividing the vehicles based on speed increases the safety and efficiency of the road. Drivers can easily become frustrated if they’re stuck behind a slower moving vehicle, and the situation could end in road rage.
Too many drivers in the fast lane can create a major highway problem, with sudden and unexpected changes in speed and rear-end collisions. If a large truck merges into the far-left lane, it will slow down traffic and cause other drivers to weave in and out of traffic lanes to pass the truck. This increases the risk of a potentially severe car accident. If you see a large truck in the left lane in California, consider calling Highway Patrol to report the truck and its driver.