I have heard arguments about the pros and cons of laws that govern each state’s lane restrictions for big trucks, but in the end the law is the law! Not that I am perfect, but I try to drive according to the laws that govern the roads to maintain a certain level of safety, improve traffic flow and keep my driving record blemish-free. I remember several times zipping up the right lane to pass a much slower moving truck in the second lane, where afterwards I would happen to hear someone add their two cents in on the radio by saying something to the tune of, “Must be in a hurry!” Of course I typically dish out a calm reply without missing a beat of, “Not really, I just don’t like going 45 in the hammer lane when I’m empty behind someone who doesn’t know how to move over as to not block faster moving traffic!” The radio typically falls silent after that, usually because the other party on the radio was the truck I had just passed and they were probably a tad embarrassed that I came back to call them out on their driving faux paux.
While traveling the highways that are two lanes or more in each direction, I often witness big trucks of a “slower nature” in the improper lanes. Although the set speed limit for 3-axle+ big trucks in California is 55mph, some trucks will travel slower than that at around 45-50mph and just sit out in that left “hammer lane” like a slow cruising zone. Whatever there reason is for going this speed (fuel, safety, etc.), they should not be blocking the lane second to the right on any highway, as this is intended to be a “passing lane” for faster moving vehicles. The courtesy of slower traffic “riding right”, or staying to the right most lane, can make roadways a much safer place to navigate for everyone. At least here in California, trucks are only allowed to travel in the right two lanes of travel, which should mean that slower traffic keeps to the right-most lane and the next one should be for the trucks traveling at a higher rate of speed only to pass.
Another important situation where lane selection is crucial is when turning at a controlled intersection or while exiting the freeway at an off-ramp. When in a traditional controlled four-way intersection you always want to be in the outside turn lane, if more than one turn lane is available. This will eliminate the need to swing wide to avoid light poles, or people standing on the corner, in the event you jump the curb! Always drive ahead of your truck and pay attention to the signs coming up to the intersection that usually illustrate what lanes turn in which direction. When exiting a freeway, black and white illustrative signs with this information can typically be located overhead, or to the side of the lanes, so look ahead and take note!
Proper lane selection will not only keep you out of some hot water when it comes to equipment damage, but it can also improve the flow of traffic and overall road safety for all. Anyone who drives for a living should recognize the importance of doing everything possible to safely keep traffic flowing. Don’t let yourself become "that person" holding up a line of trucks in the “hammer lane” for no good reason! Be courteous and let the faster traffic move on by to your left!