Ask 2: Can large commercial trucks drive in the left lane?

Houston (KPRC 2)

At KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

The question: Can semi trucks drive in the left lane?

We wish this simple question had a simple answer, but . . . it’s complicated.

Left-lane truck restrictions in Houston

A state law grants authority to local governments to petition the Texas Department of Transportation to designate left-lane truck restrictions on roads with three or more lanes. So, to avoid running the risk of a ticket, truckers should keep a lookout for any signage posted along their routes specifying restrictions.

In Houston, large commercial trucks, those with three or more axels, cannot drive in prohibited left lanes on freeways where signage is posted.

Currently in Houston, four freeways have left lane restrictions 24 hours a day:

  • The East Freeway between Waco Street and Uvalde
  • State Highway 225 between the 610 Loop and Highway 146
  • The North Freeway between Loop 610 and Rankin Road and
  • US 290 between Loop 610 and Beltway 8

These stretches of road consists of freeways that have a minimum section length of six miles, have no left exit on the minimum six-mile distance, and have a minimum commercial vehicle usage rate of 4%, according to the city’s website.

Left lane truck restrictions along the East Freeway in Houston resulted in 68% fewer crashes along main freeway lanes, according to a 36-week study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Texas enforces a left-lane passing law

Drivers, here’s something else to keep in mind: the Lone Star State enforces a left-lane passing law for all vehicles. Large commercial trucks, that means you too. Those “Left Lane for Passing Only” signs you see on multi-lane highways aren’t a suggestion. It’s the law.

We’re not surprised if this little nugget of information is brand spanking new to some of you, so here’s a refresher on the Texas law, courtesy of TxDOT:

Watch for signs on Texas multi-lane highways that read "Left Lane For Passing Only." These signs let you know that the left lane on a divided highway is not a "fast" lane; it is a passing lane.

After you pass someone, move into the right lane once you’ve safely cleared the vehicle. Impeding the flow of traffic by continuing to drive in the left lane is punishable by a fine of up to $200.

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