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Friday, April 2, 2010

Proposed bill would restrict trucks to right lane

By RICHARD TACKETT
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX (Thursday, April 1) - Keeping large trucks to the right on roadways with three or more lanes would make Arizona’s highways safer, a state lawmaker says.

Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, has authored a bill aimed at trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or more or pulling trailers weighing at least 6,000 pounds.

Noting that his drive to the Capitol takes him over a widened stretch of Interstate 10, Farley said having trucks across three or more lanes of traffic endangers all drivers.

“You see the danger and you feel the danger at times when you’re driving in it,” he said, “whether it’s being trapped in the middle between two or three trucks or being stuck behind three trucks all trying to pass each other.”

HB 2300 would require heavy trucks on a roadway with three or more lanes in one direction to remain in the farthest right-hand lane or in the lane immediately to the left of that lane unless otherwise posted. It would require the Arizona Department of Transportation to post signs at reasonable intervals giving notice of the regulations. The bill doesn’t address how to pay for the signs.

The measure received overwhelming approval from the House and was awaiting action in the Senate.
Farley said states such as South Carolina and Texas have seen major drops in truck-related accidents after passing similar laws.

“This is going to dramatically save lives in the state where there are stretches of highway with three lanes or more,” he said.

But Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Arizona Trucking Association, said a blanket rule keeping trucks in the two farthest right lanes would be dangerous. She wants the bill changed to only restrict trucks from the lane farthest left, freeing up additional space on roads with four or more lanes.

Rasmussen registered as neutral on Farley’s bill, but she said her organization would oppose the measure unless it’s changed in response to those concerns.

“There are some real issues with restricting trucks,” Rasmussen said. “In congested urban areas it creates a wall of trucks. People can’t merge onto or off the freeway.”

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