California has specific rules regulating lane occupation and transit, especially when it comes to commercial trucks. Commercial truckers who obey these rules, in particular the left lane rules, are at a much lower risk of causing a car accident than those who do not.
California’s Left Lanes
In most cases, left lanes on California highways are reserved for fast-moving traffic. Cars in the left lane that are driving slower than the flow of traffic must move over to the far right lane to allow faster vehicles to transit uninhibited. In some cases, the left lane is designated for passing only.
The rules are a little different when it comes to big rig trucks. Because of their size, power, and slow response time, commercial trucks must follow more restrictive transit rules when it comes to lane occupation.
Speed and Lane Transit
According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC), any truck with three or more axles or with a vehicle in tow must drive at 55 miles per hour or less at all times.
If a vehicle is limited to driving at 55 mph or less or is moving slower than the flow of traffic, then it must be driven in the right-hand lane or as close to the right curb as is safe under the circumstances.
In other words, big-rig truckers should be spending most of their time in the right-hand lane. If the truck is on a divided highway with four or more lanes going in the same direction, then the truck can occupy either of the two rightmost lanes. But it is prohibited from entering the two leftmost lanes.
Some exceptions allow commercial trucks to transit in other than the far right lane, including:
- Preparing for a turn
- Continuing in the through-traffic lane to avoid an exit
Despite the law, commercial truckers on California highways can frequently be seen driving over 55 mph or in the left lane when not allowed. Some of them may be out-of-state drivers who are used to different left-lane laws. But regardless of where the driver is from, all motorists have the duty to know the relevant state laws.
Truck-Only Lanes in California
Designated truck lanes exist to provide a separation between commercial trucks and other vehicles for safety purposes. When a truck-only lane appears, all commercial trucks must use it and remain within its lines.
Currently, there are only two truck-only lanes operating in the state. One is on I-5 in Los Angeles County, and the other begins on I-5 as well, but in Kern County, heading south. The total length of these lanes is under six miles, but the state has plans to expand truck-only lane use.
Left-Lane Truck Accidents
Left-lane truck accidents can happen when commercial truckers violate lane-related traffic laws. If you are involved in an accident with a truck, call the police, stay at the scene, and get your vehicle to safety if possible. Request medical first-responder assistance if you are even slightly injured, then go to a hospital.
If you are able, it is a good idea to photograph or video the crash site, property damage, and any injuries for your claim. And don’t forget to collect all pertinent information about the driver, including the name of the company they work for, their license plate number, and insurance information.
The laws are specific about commercial trucks and the left lane. If you’ve been injured by one in violation of the vehicle code, then speaking with an attorney experienced in car accident cases is a good first step on the road to just compensation for your losses.
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. One of our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.