Can Trucks Drive in the Left Lane in Missouri?
Ryan Bradley | June 13, 2022 | Truck Accident
If you have ever driven on a major highway, you have probably noticed that tractor-trailers usually congregate in the right lanes. This isn’t a coincidence. Most states have laws requiring large vehicles to stay out of the left lane. The state of Missouri is no exception.
In 2008, the Missouri legislature passed a statute that requires certain vehicles to stay out of the left lane in specific situations. Primarily this affects large trucks like tractor-trailers, but it also affects other similarly sized vehicles.
What Vehicles Are Affected?
This law only applies to a subset of vehicles on the road. Vehicles affected by this law include:
- Any truck weighing over 48,000 pounds that transports property
- Motor vehicles designed to transport freight and merchandise
- Vehicles that transport more than eight passengers
There are some exceptions to the last type of vehicle. Vanpools and shuttle buses are excluded from that classification of vehicle. The goal of the law is to affect heavy vehicles that have limited maneuverability.
Where Do These Laws Apply?
The law can’t apply in any area with only one lane traveling in each direction. Additionally, the law does not apply on highways that only have two lanes traveling in each direction. This law only applies in an urban area where the highway has at least three lanes traveling in a single direction.
Are There Exceptions?
The main exception to this law is when a highway has a left entrance or exit in an area where left lane travel would otherwise be prohibited. Trucks are permitted to use the lane to enter or exit the highway and to use it for limited travel, as necessary, to safely transition to or from other lanes.
Furthermore, as a matter of safety, trucks are permitted to use the left lane when circumstances would make it safer to do so. Thus, it is legal for a truck driver to travel in the left lane to avoid dangerous road conditions or to avoid getting into a truck accident.
Road construction may also sometimes require a truck to drive in the left lane or use it for passing.
Why Do Left Lane Laws Exist?
Trucks are extremely dangerous. Missouri averages roughly 100 fatal commercial vehicle crashes every year. These laws exist to reduce the number of annual commercial vehicle crashes and make the roads safer for everyone.
While it can’t be stated authoritatively that the law has succeeded, injuries and fatalities in truck crashes have decreased by approximately 30% since 2008.
The Need to Drive Safely
Just because Missouri laws limit the lanes where trucks can drive, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still drive cautiously when near trucks. Truck drivers have limited visibility, and trucks have a very large turning radius.
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid driving too close to a truck and leave a lane between you and a truck whenever possible. Truck drivers are highly trained, but that doesn’t mean they are perfect.
What to Do if You See a Truck in the Left Lane
In general, truck drivers shouldn’t be in the left lane. But there are circumstances where a truck driver is legally driving in the left lane. You shouldn’t automatically assume the driver is breaking the law.
However, if the driver is breaking the law, worry about your safety first. Give the driver plenty of room and if possible, get off the road briefly. You can report the truck to a non-emergency police number. But you should only do that once you have gotten off the road and away from the truck.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, contact a truck accident lawyer for help. Call Bradley Law today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
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