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Can Trucks Drive in the Left Lane?

Posted on June 3, 2021 in

If you get injured in a commercial truck accident in Arizona, you must determine fault for the crash before you can file an insurance claim. This is how the insurance system works in Arizona as a tort-based state. If the truck was in the left lane in the moments leading up to your crash, this may or may not be relevant to your injury claim. The laws on whether or not a commercial truck driver can drive in the left lane vary from state to state so speak with a local Scottsdale truck accident attorney if you were injured in an accident in Arizona.

Are There Left-Lane Restrictions for Large Trucks in Arizona?

According to Arizona Revised Statute 28-721, the leftmost lane on a multilane road is reserved for passing. Also referred to as the fast lane, the left-hand lane should be used only to pass slower-moving vehicles proceeding in the same direction. The only exemption is if it is necessary to travel in the left lane, such as for road construction closures or dangerous road defects. This law applies to all motor vehicles, including commercial trucks and standard passenger cars.

In Arizona and most other states, drivers should only enter the leftmost lane of a highway to pass. Then, they should move back into the middle or right-hand lane. Traveling too slow in the left lane could lead to a $250 fine. It is common, however, for drivers in Arizona to ignore this rule and treat the left lane like any other lane. This includes drivers of commercial trucks. Violations are especially common on busy stretches of highway, such as the I-17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff and the I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson.

Aside from the general rule that applies to all drivers, Arizona does not have a specific law that prohibits truck drivers from using the left lane. It should be noted, however, that the state allows local municipalities to determine their own laws for commercial trucks. Some cities have passed ordinances banning vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds or trailers weighing more than 6,000 pounds from the left-hand lane.

Different States Have Different Left-Lane Laws

The rules regarding commercial trucks in the left lane change from state to state. Commercial truck drivers that travel across state lines are responsible for familiarizing themselves with each state’s traffic and trucking laws. To avoid traffic tickets or other negative repercussions, a commercial truck driver should avoid the left lane if he or she does not know the state law.

Is Traveling in the Left Lane a Form of Reckless Driving?

The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of the accident. If no local law prohibited commercial trucks from driving in the left lane, the truck driver may have been within his or her rights to use the left lane to pass slower-moving vehicles. For the most part, however, large trucks avoid the left lane, as they operate at slower speeds than most vehicles.

In Arizona, the same speed limits apply to both automobiles and trucks. In some states, however, commercial trucks must abide by reduced speed limits. In these states, it is less common to see large trucks in the left lane. Even in Arizona, most commercial truck drivers avoid the left lane, as it is safer and more prudent to drive slower than the surrounding vehicles. A truck that is traveling too fast may be unable to safely brake in time to avoid a collision, especially when going downhill or around a corner.

Is a Truck Driver Liable for Driving in the Left Lane?

If you were involved in a truck accident in Arizona when the driver of the truck was using the left-hand lane, this does not automatically place liability with the trucker. Instead, your case will require an investigation to determine who was at fault for the crash.

If the truck driver was driving too fast for conditions, tailgating, weaving between lanes of traffic, making an unsafe lane change, or engaged in another type of careless or reckless behavior, the truck driver may be responsible for causing your collision. If the truck driver was safely, legally and appropriately using the left lane, however, you or another party may be liable.

Discuss your recent truck accident in more detail with an attorney in Scottsdale today for assistance.