Commercial trucks seem to be just part of the scenery along the California highways, from the long stretches up the coast to the crowded delivery areas in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego.
But sharing the road with these giant trucks, which weigh easily ten times the weight of the average passenger car, can often be dangerous. Drivers involved in truck accidents frequently sustain catastrophic injuries and even fatalities.
In an effort to make California highways safer and reduce the amount of time that passenger cars and tractor-trailers share the roadways, the California state legislature created truck-only lane restrictions.
Truck drivers in violation of truck-only lanes that are subsequently involved in a commercial truck accident may be liable for any injuries or damages to the other driver. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help if you’ve been involved in a truck accident.
What Are California’s Truck Lane Restrictions?
California truck-only lanes are designated solely for the use of large trucks. These lanes separate semi-trailers from passenger cars and other vehicles and help improve the flow of traffic and increase the safety of everyone on the road.
California truck lanes are restricted to only trucks, although in other states, passenger cars may use truck-designated lanes. It’s important for people who are visiting California or are new to the area to become familiar with the restrictions.
California has two truck-only lane locations as of 2020, but more are under construction. The first one is along I-5 in Los Angeles County at the State Route 14 intersection, both the northbound and southbound routes.
The second truck-only lane is on the I-5 in Kern County at the junction of State Route 99, southbound only. This lane serves to have trucks merge in a different location from the general traffic merging point of I-5 and Route 99.
Trucks are required by law to use truck-designated lanes where available.
This applies not only to commercial trucks but to other vehicles with three or more axles, including:
- U-Hauls and moving trucks
- Vehicles towing other vehicles
These vehicles are restricted to speeds of 55mph or less on almost all California roadways.
Because of this restriction, trucks aren’t permitted to use the far left lane on California highways and must remain in the far right lane if there are three or fewer lanes that head toward the same direction. Drivers failing to use the far right lane can receive a fine.
Additional Commercial Vehicle Regulations Truckers Must Follow in California
The California State Highway Patrol enforces truck-only lane restrictions and other highway regulations for larger vehicles. Truckers in California, as in all of the country, must follow the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
This agency regulates the national trucking industry, with many rules and statutes in place to improve the safe operation of motor carriers. These rules cover everything from the responsibility of trucking companies to maintain their fleets to truck driver drug and alcohol testing.
Other FMCSA regulations include hours of service and electronic logging device requirements, which ensure that drivers are adhering to time on and off the road. Other regulations enforce cargo securement and hazardous material transportation, ensuring that trucks are loaded safely.
Drivers have certain drug testing requirements, as well. Trucking companies also have obligations under the FMCSA, including maintaining safety standards for their vehicles and doing due diligence with driver hiring, training, and disciplinary procedures.
There are also accident reporting procedures that truckers must comply with. If a driver or carrier company violates an FMCSA regulation and causes an accident, they’re subject to liability. Carriers are also liable for the actions of their drivers under the rule of vicarious liability.
California truck-only lanes are intended to promote safety for all those on the road. As more are added to California highways, it’s important for all drivers to understand the rules and follow them.
Contact Our Truck Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. A Los Angeles truck accident lawyer at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.