Anyone who’s traveled on California’s freeways has experienced the frightening feeling of semi-trucks zipping past you in the left lane. These big rigs barrel along our roads at speeds of 55 mph or more, weighing up to 80,000 pounds!
Semi-trucks are everywhere and are allowed to travel day and night across almost all of California’s major roads and freeways. About 15 million large commercial trucks are registered in the state of California, including huge 18-wheeler semi-trailers carrying massive loads of raw goods, hazardous waste, logs, construction materials, packages, and much more.
When you see a big rig zooming past you on the left, do you wonder whether it’s legal? California has special laws about using the left lane. Here’s what you need to know.
Left-Lane Use Rules for Semi-Trucks in California
It’s no fun to be stuck behind a line of big trucks in the left lane on a California highway. Plus, it’s a dangerous situation that leads to traffic congestion and severe California semi-truck accidents.
Generally speaking, the state of California attempts to limit left-lane dangers by asking vehicles to stay in the right lane unless passing other vehicles. When vehicles are traveling at lower speeds than normal, they are also expected to stay in the right lane.
Big trucks face additional restrictions. Commercial trucks traveling on California highways with three or fewer lanes in each direction should remain in the far right lane and should never use the far left lane as their main lane of travel.
When there are four or more lanes facing the same direction, the truck may leave the far right lane and use a designated passing lane and/or the second-to-right lane to pass other vehicles, then re-enter the far right lane as the main lane of travel. At all times, trucks are expected to be on the lookout for nearby and passing vehicles, passing only when the lane is safe and clear.
Multi-axle trucks and tractor-trailers should travel at a maximum speed of 55 mph. On certain highways, like Interstate 5, these trucks should travel within clearly marked truck-only lanes. Truckers are expected to pay attention to road signs and road markings, traveling only in truck lanes wherever indicated.
Penalties for Improper Lane Use
Commercial truckers who don’t follow California’s lane laws can incur financial penalties and also experience other types of fallout from breaking the rules. Their employers might limit their time on the road, restrict where they can drive, or even end their employment with the trucking company.
In terms of traffic citations, a first offense for failing to use lanes properly typically comes with a $100 fine to get the trucker’s attention and educate them about the law. From there, the fines escalate to $200 and $250 for subsequent offenses, enforced by the California Highway Patrol.
Truckers who cause left-lane accidents can also find themselves in legal hot water as they face liability for hurting people and causing property damage. If a trucker fails to use the lanes properly and causes you injury, you may have a strong case for truck accident compensation.
The legal team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers has decades of combined experience handling semi-truck accident cases involving improper lane use, dangerous lane changes, and more. Contact us now to get your case rolling with a free semi-truck accident case evaluation.
We Have the Experience for Your Truck Injury Claim
Contact the attorney team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including semi-truck accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.