Oklahoma highway bill, HB2558, has been proposed legislation that restricts truck drivers from driving in the left lanes on roads with three lanes in one direction unless turning or passing another driver.
Although the purpose of the proposition is to reduce unnecessary obstructions, improve recognition of hazards, increase highway safety and the welfare of drivers, it has been met with some opposition. Opposing arguments primarily involve opinions that current highway legislation is adequate and therefore should not be revised, truck drivers should have the opportunity to use the far left lane as liberally as other drivers on the the highway, and restricting the use of the left lane on a six lane highway could present truck drivers with additional challenges.
We support this bill and believe it will increase safety for both truck drivers and other motorists traveling on the highway. Vehicles and other hazards approaching or overtaking an 18-wheeler on the left side (passenger side) are harder for the driver to see, as they move into and through the "no zones". Keeping the traffic flowing on the driver's side decreases the liklihood of side underride and lane change collisions. We challenge the opposing argument regarding truck drivers having equal opportunity to use the far left lanes as frequently as other motorists. The safety of the motoring public must be the primary concern. Maneuvering an 18-wheeler on the highway requires an increased awareness and accountability. Other drivers move in and out of the space around commercial motor vehicles all the time, moving the trucks to the right means other vehicles on the left. Moving these hazards to the side most visible to CMV drivers just makes sense.
Many other states have embraced truck lanes, or legislation to move trucks to the right lane. Most professional truck drivers are taught that "big trucks drive in the right lane". The left lane will still be available for passing and turning, and will still be required when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle. This bill is worth a try, because it puts truck drivers in a position of safety.