Let’s get commercial trucks out of the left lane

A sign on Interstate 20 near Matlock Road in Arlington tell drivers of big rigs that they can’t use the left-hand lane. But I noticed driving to Dallas the other day that plenty of tractor-trailers were barreling through in the “fast lane” anyway.

The state highway department has just doubled the number of miles on Dallas-Fort Worth area highways where trucks are banned from using the left lane.

A 2006 study of banning trucks from the left lane in this area, which was conducted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, proved that keeping commercial trucks out of the left lanes reduced crashes, improved travel speeds and contributed to better air quality.

This isn’t due to any fault on the part of truck drivers themselves: It’s just physics. Because of their size, big trucks in the left lane have a harder time seeing vehicles to their right than other traffic. It takes them longer to stop, accelerate or maneuver in an emergency than a smaller car.

And drivers of compact cars who have found themselves boxed in by 18-wheelers hurtling in flying formation at maximum highway speed get an instinctive lesson in velocity mechanics that can be awfully disconcerting.

The general public is enthusiastic about these new laws, and big corporate trucking firms generally support or at least don’t oppose the strategy, the council of governments report said.

The lane restrictions for this area aren’t universal. Right now, they’re in force only on targeted sections of Interstates 20, 30 and 45. State traffic engineers don’t use them on stretches of highway that have fewer than three lanes, have left-hand exits or don’t meet a minimum length of six miles.

The proposed additions include I-30 between downtown Dallas and the Tarrant County line, I-30 to the east of LBJ Freeway and into Rockwall County, I-35E between downtown Dallas and just beyond the Ellis County line, LBJ Freeway between North Central Expressway and I-30, and North Central Expressway between LBJ Freeway and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.

I’ve been representing the victims of 18 wheeler and commerical truck crashes in the DFW area for over 33 years. Call or email me if you have any questions about your case.

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