Kibbey Wagner, PLLC | September 15, 2022 | Florida Law
Large tractor trailers are a familiar sight on Florida’s highways. While they are essential for commerce, they have the potential to cause wrecks leading to death or serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s statistics show that in 2020, nearly 5,000 people were killed in wrecks involving trucks.
Because of the danger posed by heavy trucks, Florida’s rules of the road impose certain restrictions on how and where they are operated. One such law restricts commercial trucks from traveling in the left lane on highways. Advanced as a way to improve overall traffic safety, this limitation has exceptions.
Can a Tractor Trailer Drive in the Left Lane on a Florida Highway?
The Florida rule does not prohibit commercial trucks from traveling in the left lane of all highways. Instead, it is the leftmost lane, or inside lane, of travel on six-lane interstates that are off limits.
Generally speaking, this rule means that tractor trailers and other commercial trucks are allowed to drive in the leftmost lane on most Florida highways. The left lane restriction is present only on certain sections of I-95 and I-75. State highways are not encompassed by these restrictions, and trucks can travel in the leftmost lane on these roadways.
Furthermore, the restriction is not present on all sections of I-95 or I-75. Only those sections with six lanes of travel are included. The Florida Department of Transportation maintains an interactive map that illustrates the locations where this restriction is in place.
The Left Lane Restriction for Trucks Exists for Motorists’ Safety
The reason why Florida prohibits commercial trucks from using the left lane on certain parts of its highways is safety. This rule specifically discourages truck drivers from weaving in and out of lanes to attempt to pass traffic. It is meant to reduce the likelihood of collisions between trucks and other traffic.
The restriction also helps prevent situations where trucks are unable to pass one another and instead ride abreast of each other. This problem causes delays and prevents faster-moving traffic from proceeding around the trucks.
Not All Large Vehicles Are Covered by This Rule
While large vehicles like tour buses and tractor trailers share many similarities and pose the same dangers to motorists, only commercial trucks like tractor trailers are affected. Under the rule, tour buses, recreational vehicles, and other large vehicles are permitted to travel in the far left lane of highways.
Drivers of passenger vehicles should be aware of this limitation. A tractor-trailer may not use the inside lane in a restricted zone to pass another tractor-trailer, but a recreational vehicle could. Drivers of passenger cars should therefore pay attention to these other large vehicles and be aware of their movements.
Penalties for Violating the Left Lane Restriction
A truck driver who is violating this left lane restriction for any reason can be cited by a law enforcement officer. They would have to pay a fine of $121 in addition to other costs. Additionally, three points per violation are assessed against the truck driver’s license.
Once a commercial driver accumulates a total of 12 points within a 12-month period, that driver’s license can be suspended for at least 30 days.
Remaining Safe on Florida’s Highways
Understanding the rules of the road for passenger vehicles as well as commercial trucks can help all drivers remain safe. By knowing what large vehicles like trucks and buses can and cannot do on highways, you can be better prepared to anticipate their movements and avoid collisions. And if you do end up in an accident with a commercial vehicle, an experienced truck accident attorney can help you obtain compensation from those responsible.