When you are on the road, you are relying on truck drivers to follow the law. They owe you a duty of care when they are in proximity to you on the road. Unfortunately, truck drivers may be trying to maximize the amount of miles that they can travel in their permitted time. To travel the fastest, truck drivers may travel in the left lane. This practice is illegal under many circumstances.
If you have been hurt in a trucking collision, reach out to our Orlando truck accident lawyer at JustCallMoe to get a tenacious legal advocate on your side.
Trucks Cannot Travel in the Left Lane on Certain Florida Highways
While one may think that truck drivers are always prohibited from driving in the left lane, it is not always the case on Florida’s roads. The general rule is that trucks may not travel in the inside lanes of a highway that has six lanes or more (three in each direction).
They cannot even use the leftmost lane to pass other vehicles. Many of Florida’s highways are four lanes, meaning that the restriction does not apply.
However, I-75 in the Orlando area is six lanes or more, meaning that the restriction applies in the local area. Most busy interstates in Florida have at least six lanes of traffic.
Here are some Florida highways where the restriction on trucks traveling in the left lane applies in many places:
The Florida Department of Transportation publishes a map that shows where left lane restrictions apply. The burden is on the truck driver to know when they cannot be in the left lane.
The restriction only applies on designated interstates and United States highways that meet the lane requirements. Trucks are allowed to drive in the left lane on Florida state roads.
Penalties for Driving in the Left Lane
Trucks can be pulled over for traveling in the left lane. The truck driver would need to pay a $121 fine. More consequential are the three points that are assessed to their commercial driver’s license.
If a Florida-licensed truck driver accumulates 12 points in a 12-month period, they will have their license suspended for 30 days, costing the driver their ability to earn a living.
Why Trucks Cannot Travel in the Left Lane
The restriction on trucks driving in the left lane is based on safety concerns. In general, the left lane is regarded to be the “fast lane.” Even though there are posted speed limits, drivers tend to believe that they can go faster in the left lane. Cars often travel well above the posted speed limit to keep up with traffic.
It is extremely dangerous for trucks to travel as fast as the other cars in the left lane. To do so, the truck driver may need to speed to keep pace. Speeding increases the chances of a rear-end truck accident because the driver would need even more time to stop if a car slowed down ahead of them. In addition, the faster the truck travels, the greater the force of any crash that they cause.
If a truck is traveling at more than 70 miles per hour, there is very little chance that a passenger car would emerge from any accident intact. Finally, truck drivers are far more likely to lose control of speeding trucks.
Trucks in the left lane could also interrupt the flow of traffic. If a truck driver is not speeding, other drivers may feel the need to pass them. They would need to change lanes twice to get around the truck, potentially causing traffic congestion and increasing the chance of an accident at a high speed.
How Driving in the Left Lane Impacts Liability in an Accident
In any truck accident, you would need to prove that the truck driver was at fault for the accident to claim compensation. You have an obligation to demonstrate that they were negligent.
In personal injury law, there is a concept that is called negligence per se. Translated literally, this means that something is negligent in itself. The legal concept is that someone who was violating a statute at the time of the accident is presumed to be negligent. Hopefully, the police officer who showed up to the scene issued the truck driver a citation for illegally driving in the left lane.
The burden would shift to the trucking company to prove that you were negligent. If you were following the rules of the road in Florida at the time, you would be in a better position to defend yourself.
Safety Tips When a Truck Is In the Left Lane
You must be very careful when a truck is in the left lane. Even though the truck driver would be responsible for any accident, you want to avoid a crash in the first place.
You should avoid getting too close to a truck that is in the left lane. Further, it can be dangerous to pass a truck in the left lane because you may have trouble seeing into your blindspots.
Around trucks in the left lane, you should:
- Allow plenty of distance between you and the truck
- If you see a truck in the left lane in your rearview mirror, switch out of the lane
- Wait until the truck leaves the left lane to get back into the lane
- Drive defensively at all times
Your own actions could be important, both in furthering your own safety and for purposes of liability if there is a truck accident. If you act too aggressively, you may put yourself at risk. It is better to be safe and allow for a little extra time, even if the truck driver illegally remains in the left lane.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in Orlando If a Driver Violated the Law
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident where negligence per se could be a factor, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. You need an attorney to represent your interests and stand up for your legal rights.
Trust the team at JustCallMoe to begin the legal process swiftly and promptly take the fight to the trucking company whose driver injured you. Take the first step by scheduling an initial consultation. Call us today at (866) CALL-MOE or send us a message online.