Truck Only Lanes
Large commercial tractor-trailers also referred to as semis and 18-wheelers, are a staple of American roadways. They can be quite dangerous and cause significant traffic accident injuries for passenger vehicles that collide with them.
Driving defensively around semi-trucks and paying attention to the “no-go” spots can help reduce your chances of an accident.
Starting with California, many states are considering creating “truck only” lanes, allowing trucks to be separate from other traffic on the road. California is the only state to currently administer truck-only lanes, although several other states are considering incorporating truck lanes into their major city highway infrastructure.
Thousands of accidents each year involve 18-wheelers, including multi-car accidents and ones just involving the truck driver. These trucks have a higher center of gravity than passenger cars, and they need more room to make turns and stop.
With weights that can reach 80,000 pounds fully loaded, these trucks can cause a lot of damage in an accident. In fact, in 2017, over 4,600 fatalities happened due to truck accidents. This is why California and other states are trying to reduce the likelihood of truck accidents on their highways by adopting truck-only lanes.
How Will Truck-Only Lanes Work?
Truck-only lanes work just like the name says: highway traffic lanes are restricted to semi-trucks. They’re similar in concept to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or carpool lanes that many major cities currently have.
These lanes are separated from the rest of the highway and clearly marked as truck-only. They’re intended to keep trucks in a separate corridor and out of regular traffic flow.
Separating trucks from other vehicles on the interstate reduces the chances of a truck accident and a catastrophic motor vehicle accident injury. Plus, it can lighten the flow of traffic on the interstate, as the smaller, faster-moving vehicles can pass more safely without negotiating around the larger trucks.
California’s truck lane signage is black and white, directing trucks to use these lanes when available. This means that trucks are legally required to be in the truck lane when possible.
However, the signs for passenger vehicles indicating truck lanes are in green. This means it’s not enforceable for the passenger vehicles to stay out of the truck lanes. Trucks must use the lanes where they’re designated, while passenger cars don’t have to keep out of the lanes.
Although it’s not recommended for regular drivers to use the truck lanes, there aren’t penalties right now for doing so. However, if a truck bypasses the entrance to a truck-only lane and continues to drive in the regular lanes, they may get a ticket and a fine.
Where Are the Truck Only Lanes in California?
There are only two truck lanes in the state currently, although more are in the works. The first is on I-5 in Los Angeles County, in both the southbound and northbound portions of the highway. It starts at the State Route 14 split, and lasts for about 2.5 miles each way.
The second one is off I-5 southbound in Kern County, starting at the State Route 99 junction near Grapevine. It’s just under half a mile in length and is intended to funnel the commercial traffic further down the highway, reducing the chances of accidents where traffic merges onto I-5 from State Route 99.
California’s truck lanes are physically separated from the rest of the highway and have rules discouraging other drivers from using them.
What Happens If a Truck Driver Doesn’t Use the Truck-Only Lane?
Unlike truck drivers’ general rule of thumb to remain in the far right lane as much as possible, truck-only lanes in California are governed by traffic laws. Fines, tickets, and points on the driver’s license are the penalties for not using the lanes.
In addition to a traffic ticket, a trucker who violates the truck-only lane requirement can face consequences from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
If a truck is involved in an accident with another vehicle while not in the truck lane, especially if that driver suffers from a subsequent auto accident injury, then the trucker and trucking company may be held liable for disobeying the posted laws about using the truck lane.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in a Truck Lane Accident?
Truck lane accidents can be scary, and the chances that you’ll have suffered a motor vehicle accident injury are high. First, make sure that you and your passengers are ok.
Call 911 for emergency medical care and to summon the police. If possible, move your car to the side of the road, out of the way of traffic. You may also wish to check on the truck driver’s condition if you’re able to.
It’s imperative that you call the police. They’ll file an accident report, which you’ll need when hiring a personal injury lawyer to seek damages from your truck accident injury. The police can determine what caused the accident and who was at fault.
Collect as much information as you can, including the names and contact information of other drivers involved. Take pictures of the scene, too, and make sure to obtain a copy of the police report.
Getting prompt medical attention for your auto accident injury is also important. Many neck, spine, and soft tissue injuries don’t show up right after an accident. A medical professional can determine if you’ve suffered from one. What’s more, pain from even severe injuries can be masked by the adrenaline released after a wreck, so remember: you may be injured even if you don’t “feel hurt.”
Finally, call a personal injury lawyer who has experience pursuing claims after a truck accident. You could be entitled to a settlement to cover any damages from the traffic accident injury.
Have You Suffered a Truck Accident Injury?
If you’ve been hurt due to an accident with a commercial semi-truck, you may have a case for a lawsuit to recover damages to help pay for your medical bills or to replace or repair your car.
A personal injury lawyer with experience handling truck accident cases can help you build a strong case and protect your interests in court or at mediation. Call us today at (919) 341-0059 or fill out our online form for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer about your case.