Brian White | January 21, 2023 | Truck Accidents
The economy depends on trucks. These important vehicles carry over 72% of freight in the U.S., far more than rail, sea, and air conveyance. But trucks also create traffic jams and cause truck accidents, especially around major cities.
Texas transportation officials must balance the need for freight transportation to and from the state’s ports and businesses with the need for safe and efficient highways. In 1997, the state passed laws allowing lane restrictions so state, county, and city transportation officials can manage their highway traffic more effectively.
What Are Texas Truck Lane Restrictions?
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) can restrict which lanes commercial motor vehicles use. A state, county, or city can propose a lane restriction, then TxDOT conducts a study of the restriction and determines whether the proposal meets its requirements.
To be approved, a proposed truck lane restriction should:
- Occur on a highway with at least three lanes
- Cover a route with at least 4% commercial truck traffic
- Extend at least six miles
- Have no exits from the lanes subject to truck restrictions
If TxDOT approves the proposed truck lane restriction, the agency will install signs reading “No Trucks Left Lane.” The department can also add additional informational signage, such as “Next X Miles,” “Begin,” and “End.” Signs can also identify the hours of the lane restrictions if the approval only covers peak traffic times.
Locations of Texas Truck Lane Restrictions
Houston has implemented truck lane restrictions in several locations, including:
I-45 north of Houston has truck lane restrictions over a 20-mile length. Trucks cannot use the left lane between I-610 and the Hardy Toll Road north of Spring.
US-290 has truck lane restrictions northwest of Houston. The restrictions cover about 19 miles between 34th Street to Mueschke Road north of Cypress.
I-10 has about 16 miles of truck lane restrictions east of Houston. The lane restrictions run between Waco Street in Houston and Crosby-Lynchburg Road/Main Street/Independence Parkway in Lynchburg.
TX-225/La Porte Freeway
The La Porte Freeway, also called State Highway 225, has truck lane restrictions over its 13-mile length from Houston to La Porte. According to TxDOT, this lane restriction was the first in the area to require approval from multiple municipalities.
Consequences of Truck Lane Violations in Texas
Truck lane restrictions prohibit trucks from using the left lane as a travel lane. They can still use the left lane to pass slower traffic or if other travel lanes contain debris or other hazards that could endanger the driver or other road users.
Houston’s police department has a Truck Enforcement Unit that patrols the areas covered by the truck lane restrictions. The police can issue a citation to truck drivers traveling in restricted lanes for failing to obey posted signs. This citation carries a fine of $200.
As a result of Houston’s truck lane restrictions, truck crashes dropped by 68% on the designated highways. According to TxDOT, this happened without:
- Slowing down freeway speeds
- Altering the mix of vehicles, meaning truck drivers didn’t choose alternate routes
- Reducing the number of automobiles using the left lane
These results occurred because truck drivers on restricted highways:
- Slowed down
- Made fewer lane changes
- Stayed to the right so drivers could pass them safely on the left
If a truck driver causes a crash while violating truck lane restrictions, the employing trucking company could bear liability.
Texas accident victims can use a doctrine known as “negligence per se” to skip certain steps in an injury claim. This doctrine applies when the at-fault driver’s violation of a safety law causes an accident.
Improving Safety in Texas With Truck Lane Restrictions
Texas has found a way to balance safety and commerce, but truck drivers must follow the truck lane restrictions for the system to work. When they do, they improve safety for themselves and others. But when they don’t, they increase the risk of accidents.
Contact the Houston Truck Accident Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
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