Truck Only Lanes: What You Need to Know

At one time or another, we have all felt frustrated while sitting in gridlock traffic on the highway—whether as a driver or as a passenger. Some of us have also had harrowing driving experiences involving semi-trucks or other large trucks. Truck drivers, too, can get irritated by the behavior of passenger vehicle drivers. Some states are taking measures to improve traffic and safety by keeping the two types of vehicles separate. Read on to learn more about truck only lanes.

About Truck Only Lanes

Truck only lanes are lanes on the highway that are designated for use by large trucks only. While the idea for truck only lanes has been floating around for many years, such plans have only been implemented in the past several years. Interest in these projects has risen due to the practical challenges of the need to increase freight capacity in trucking.

There are many pros to truck only lanes. Heavier trucks do more damage to the roads over time, so segregating trucks to certain lanes will lower necessary maintenance for the other lanes. Separating vehicles by size and weight could also increase overall safety by stabilizing the flow of traffic. Proponents argue that truck-only lanes will reduce conflicts between trucks and other drivers, and make it more likely that drivers of passenger cars can safely share the road with trucks.

There are many possible benefits for truckers as well. Trucks are often slowed down by drivers who don't safely travel near truckers. Some people drive in trucks' blind spots, or cut in front of trucks, not appreciating the distance it takes for a heavier truck to brake and fully stop. Also, if trucks were in a designated lane free from cars, they would be able to travel at a more closely spaced distance in efficient "fleets" and use radio communications to control their spacing. This would reduce drag and lead to more fuel efficiency.

Encountering Truck Only Lanes

Truck only lanes are not yet all that common in the U.S. However, areas with particularly congested traffic or stretches with consistent, heavy truck use have implemented these lanes in an effort to address the problem. For example, California has implemented two truck only lanes on highway I-5, a corridor frequently used for truckers travelling between Southern and Northern California. However, while trucks are restricted to using only these lanes, other passenger vehicles are encouraged not to use them, but are technically allowed to do so.

Georgia also plans to add truck only lanes funded by toll roads to alleviate traffic problems between Atlanta and Macon. A major downside to truck only lanes are the expense on constructing them. It is estimated that the Atlanta truck only lane project will cost an estimate $2 billion, and opponents have questioned if the costly addition of the lanes will actually result in any substantial reduction in traffic.

Due to the scarcity of truck only lanes, it's not all that likely that you will encounter them while driving. However, if you are travelling in an area with truck only lanes, they will be clearly marked as such with road signs. The signs will also indicate if passenger vehicles are allowed to travel in the lanes. Be sure to abide by truck only signage, as violations of enforceable lane restrictions can result in a traffic ticket.

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