While driving around recently I have noticed a great deal of improper choices being made on the highways I travel. Although these choices are governed by laws, which vary from state to state, here in California they are all too often an epic fail! I have heard arguments for and against the laws that govern each state’s lane restrictions, but the law is the law. Not that I am perfect, but I try to drive according to the laws that govern our industry for a reason.
While traveling the highways that are two lanes each way or more, I have witnessed big trucks of a slower nature in the wrong lanes. Although the set speed limit for big trucks in California is 55mph (with the exception of the I5 spot where they are testing 65mph), some trucks will travel slower than that at around 50mph. Whatever there is for going this speed is (fuel, safety, etc.), they should not be blocking the lane second to the right on any highway. A great deal of the states in the U.S. observe “Slower traffic keep right” or “left lane for passing” laws. In California trucks are only allowed to travel in the right two lanes, 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. What led me to this blog was the fact that I am seeing a lot of the opposite, which can hinder the flow of traffic in the truck lanes of travel.
Another important situation where lane selection is crucial is in turning, whether at a controlled intersection or during exiting the freeway at an offramp. When in a traditional four-way intersection, you 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 and people on the corner while you jump the curb! Always drive ahead of your truck and pay attention to the signs coming up to the intersection that usually illustrate which lanes go what directions. When exiting a freeway, illustrative signs are just as important. There is a particular offramp I take daily to get back to where I park and it never fails that someone in a hurry flies up on my side in the inside right turn lane. This wouldn’t be so bad, if the street we were turning into had more than two lanes! You guessed it, that driver has to swing out into my lane to avoid taking out the light pole because of their impatience.
Proper lane selection can 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. Anyone who drives for a living knows that we should try and do everything we can 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 on by!