Semi-truck drivers in Ohio would be largely prohibited from using the fast lane on many highways if a bill proposed in the House becomes law.
House Bill 100 would require vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds be driven in the two right-hand lanes of a freeway with three lanes of travel in the same direction, except when necessary or ordered otherwise by law enforcement.
A violation could result in a $150 fine. A similar bill last year never made it to a vote.
Ohio’s trucking association says a proposed law limiting truck drivers to the right two lanes of highways is just more unnecessary regulation.
Tom Balzer, president of the 850-member Ohio Trucking Association, said the legislation isn’t necessary because truck drivers already try to stay in the right lanes and the language of the bill is too restrictive.
“Without question truck drivers feel better and safer in the right lanes than the left lane because of blind spots,” Balzer said. “We do our best to stay as far to the right as we can. The way the bill is written — it’s a right two-lane restriction.”
But state Rep. Marilyn Slaby, R-Copley, said she experiences problems on her weekly commutes to Columbus on Interstate 71 from the Akron area. It’s common, she said, for trucks to take up three lanes and block drivers who want to travel faster.
She thinks the bill’s chances of passing this year are good. States surrounding Ohio already have similar laws and the Ohio Turnpike in the northern part of the state requires truckers to keep to the right.
“It’s for safety,” she said. “An emergency vehicle could come up and have to go around.”
An over-the-road trucker who stopped in Dayton Thursday, Eric Larson, 55, of Grand Forks, N.D., said the change in law would be consistent with rules in other states.
“It’s pretty standard,” he said. “There’s always a downside, but with no trucks in the left lane, traffic runs smoother.”
Leah Hogue, a daily commuter on Interstate 75 from her Vandalia home to her job in Kettering, supports the law change. “A lot of my friends are truck drivers and they say it’s just easier to stay in one lane,” she said.
Balzer said the law could cause unintended consequences with truckers in the right two lanes obstructing highway exits and entries. He said one study indicated lane restrictions can increase crashes because of problems when too many trucks are restricted to two lanes.
Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp., who has a seat on the House Transportation Committee, is skeptical of the bill.
“I would be concerned with limiting the ability of truckers on the road or highways,” he said. “Most of our industries move their product by trucks. The trucking industry is vital to our economy.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
We asked followers on our Facebook page to weigh in on bill that would prohibit trucks from the fastlane on Ohio highways. Here’s what some of the responses are:
Ben Kreger: Truckers deliver every bit of our goods they are very important. They are misunderstood and under appreciated. That being said. This is just another law that will make an already difficult job even more difficult.
Jon Cann: I think that the left lane should be turned into the truck lane. They are “through traffic” and it would benefit us all if they would stay left out of the merge lanes.
Cliff Paul Dixon: That lane is for passing. Trucks need to pass the slower cars & trucks.
Jonathan Westfall: How about a law that nobody is allowed in the left lane except to pass?
Jill Fowkes Chambers: Fantastic! Drives me nuts when they pull over in that left lane and then just coast.
On TV: Sgt. Mark Bowron has traffic updates to help you with your commute every 10 minutes in the morning Monday-Friday from 5-7 a.m. on WHIO-TV Channel 7.
Online: Watch traffic cameras and find out where the cheap gas is on our new online traffic page at WHIO.com
On Twitter: Get the latest local traffic updates at @WHIOtraffic.
On the radio: Sgt. Mark Bowron has traffic updates throughout the day at News 95.7 FM and AM 1290. Also, listen at 7:15 a.m. Mondays for a look ahead at the week in construction areas to watch from our transportation reporter Steve Bennish.