Can Trucks Legally Drive in the Left Lane?

In most states in the U.S., the left lane of a multi-lane highway is reserved for faster-moving traffic. And in essence, the far-left lane is used for passing slower vehicles. Even so, it’s not uncommon to see trucks driving in the left lane to evade the disruptions resulting from other drivers circumventing traffic that is merging from onramps into the overtaking lane (right-hand lane).

When too many drivers are in the left lane of highways, serious traffic problems can arise. For instance, highway accidents can be caused by sudden lane changes or speed changes that exceed the speed limit.

If you or your loved one suffered an injury caused by a truck driving illegally on the left lane, a Louisville truck accident lawyer at Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers can help you get the compensation you need for your injuries.

What Is a Commercial Truck?

A commercial truck doesn’t mean any one specific kind of truck. Instead, it refers to any truck that is used for commercial purposes. These trucks often carry commercial goods or help provide commercial services.

Being the nation’s most vital means of commercial transport, commercial trucks carry a significant volume of the country’s total weight by freight. However, trucks can cause long traffic jams as well as injuries and fatalities in an accident. 

Is It Legal for Truckers to Drive in the Left Lane?

In Kentucky, the question of whether a commercial truck can legally operate in the left lane is guided by a specific set of regulations, rooted in the state statutes, section 8-1522(c); 8-2118. The law stipulates that no driver, including those operating commercial trucks, should drive in the left lane of any limited-access highway comprising four or more lanes with a speed limit of at least 65 miles per hour, except under certain circumstances.

The exceptions include instances when passing slower vehicles, yielding to traffic entering the highway, or when it’s unsafe to use the right lanes. It’s important to note that these rules are not exclusive to commercial trucks but apply to all vehicles on the road.

Non-compliance with this legislation can result in a fine ranging from $20 to $100. By effectively managing lane usage, this law helps maintain a steady flow of traffic and reduces the risk of accidents caused by improper lane changes or sudden variations in speed. As always, safety should be the primary concern of every road user, and adherence to traffic laws, such as the left-lane legislation, is an essential part of that commitment.

Why Is the “Left Lane” Legislation in Place?

As a driver, you know how irritating it can be to drive behind another vehicle that goes slower than the pace of the traffic or the speed limit. The left-lane legislation mitigates the conflicts caused by slow-moving vehicles, thereby reducing bouts of aggressive driving.

Another reason for this legislation is to prevent serious traffic accidents. Most accidents on highways result from drivers unexpectedly changing lanes or their speed. Trucks are basically the largest vehicles on the road, so truck drivers need additional time and space to overtake slower vehicles. When truck drivers decide to use the left lane, they put themselves and other drivers at risk of accidents. If you sustained injuries resulting from an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, our truck accident lawyers can help you recover the damages owed to you.

Other Kentucky Trucking Industry Rules

Kentucky’s trucking sector is governed by several FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Service Administration) regulations, including:

  • Commercial Driving License (CDL): All truck drivers are required to be licensed in their state of residence, and their driving records be accessible to each state via a centralized computing system. Drivers must pass a drug test, physical exam, and road-skills test to obtain CDL in Kentucky. The CDL is valid for four years but driving privileges can be invoked in case of violations.
  • Hours-of-Service (HOS): HOS aims to ensure that drivers get enough rest and sleep, thereby reducing the risk of fatigue-related truck accidents. This regulation limits the average maximum work week to 70 hours and mandates that truck drivers take at least a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours consecutively.
  • Logbook: Every driver must maintain a record of their duty in their own handwriting, outlining their duty status and activities within each 24-hour period. The logbooks should include trip history, equipment used, and the problems and people encountered. Employers are required to keep supporting documentation confirming that employee logbooks are accurate and true.
  • Pre-Trip Inspection: Drivers must review previous truck inspection reports, confirm the completion of all the recorded repairs, and inspect the truck’s systems and parts for damage.
  • Weight: FMCSA addresses all the weight requirements, including commercial gross weight, axle weight, combination weight, and tire load limitations.
  • Visibility: All trailers weighing 80,000 pounds and are 80 inches wide are required to have reflective tape. The white and red reflectors should be placed on the lower sides and along the rear and should be spaced evenly such that they cover at least half the trailer’s length.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing: Commercial truck drivers have more strict regulations when it comes to impaired driving, given the risk they pose to public safety. In fact, while an average person can be arrested and charged with DUI if their blood-alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.08%, commercial drivers are under the influence if their BAC is at 0.04%. A commercial driver with a detectable amount of alcohol or controlled substance in their system can be placed out of service for 24 hours.

Suppose a truck driver’s non-adherence results in you suffering injuries, an experienced truck accident lawyer in Louisville can help you seek compensation for your injuries.

What to Do If You’ve Been in a Truck Accident

Unlike average motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents usually involve more than two families. Truck drivers usually have the backing of their employers and a full staff of lawyers whose job is to ensure that the trucking company isn’t held liable. To ensure that your rights are upheld, follow these steps and contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible.

  • Take photos of everything: Your vehicle, the truck driver’s license, the logo and registration of the truck, the driver’s proof of insurance, the driver’s physical description, and any tire marks on the road.
  • Don’t sign anything: When the trucking companies recognize a potential lawsuit against them, they may try to close the case as quickly as possible. If an attorney shows up with a form at the accident scene or in the hospital, don’t sign it.
  • Call the police immediately: When you’re out of incoming traffic, call the police and honestly narrate the events leading to the accident. A police report can be crucial evidence for your trucking accident.
  • Call a lawyer: With the expert assistance of a truck accident lawyer, Louisville accident victims can gather evidence to strengthen their case and help them get the compensation they deserve.
  • Call your insurance company: Inform your insurance company of your trucking accident as soon as possible, giving a detailed description of what happened and requesting any immediate service they can offer. Suppose you decide to hire a lawyer; inform your insurance company that the lawyer will be in contact with their adjuster.

Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers Can Help You!

An accident involving a truck can be devastating. If you or your loved one was involved in an accident with a truck, you may be able to get compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses resulting from the accident. The Louisville truck accident lawyers at Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers can help with your case. Besides truck accidents, our experienced attorneys can help you with car accidents, slip & fall accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, and more. Contact us today to schedule a free case assessment.