California Truck Lane Restrictions

Truck Accidents | June 15, 2021

Large commercial trucks pose extreme risks to other roadway users. Weighing up to 80,000 pounds, large trucks far outweigh the average passenger car, making collisions catastrophic for the smaller vehicle. Although it is not always possible to avoid sharing the road with a big rig, some California truck lane restrictions help separate large trucks from the rest of the population. If a commercial truck driver violates these restrictions, this could be proof of his or her fault for a related traffic accident.

Speed Restrictions for Trucks

California has a universal speed restriction for large trucks on most regular highways. According to state law (California Vehicle Code Section 22406), trucks with three or more axles cannot exceed 55 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit in the area. This rule also applies to other large vehicles, including school buses, motorhomes, moving trucks and vehicles towing other vehicles. Speed restrictions go hand-in-hand with lane restrictions, as the left-hand lane is reserved for faster-moving traffic in California.

Truck-Only Lanes

California Vehicle Code Section 21654 states that any vehicle on a highway that must proceed at a slower speed than normal traffic moving in the same direction must use the right-hand lane or stay as close as possible to the right-hand edge of the curb. The only exceptions are if the vehicle is overtaking and passing another car proceeding in the same direction or the vehicle is making a left turn.

Since large trucks are legally required to travel no faster than 55 miles per hour, they may only be driven in the right lane on highways, except when the law allows otherwise. In addition, on some public highways, California has designated lanes that are reserved exclusively for trucks. These are called “truck-only” lanes, and they do not exist in most other states.

While smaller vehicles are not prohibited from using these lanes (although they are discouraged), truck drivers must use them without exception. Currently, there are only two places in California with truck-only lanes: northbound and southbound I-5 in LA County and southbound I-5 in Kern County. Black-and-white signs clearly mark the beginning and end of these truck-only lanes.

Federal Trucking Regulations

Truck drivers in California do not only have to obey the state’s applicable laws but also the rules and regulations given by the federal government. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has dozens of laws in place to improve the safety of the commercial trucking industry. These rules span many different subjects and areas, including:

  • Fleet vehicle inspection and maintenance requirements
  • Driver hiring and training protocols
  • Record retention requirements
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol testing
  • Hours-of-service regulations for drivers
  • Required electronic logging devices
  • Cargo loading, unloading and securement rules
  • Special rules for hazardous material transportation
  • Traffic collision reporting requirements

If a trucking company or one of its employees breaks any of these laws, the company could face a fine or sanctions from the FMCSA as a penalty. The company could also face liability (financial responsibility) for a related collision.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Get Help

If you have been injured in a recent truck accident, contact a Los Angeles truck accident attorney for professional assistance. You may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, including a trucking company or truck owner/operator.

A truck accident attorney can investigate your crash for signs of causation, such as a careless truck driver breaking the speed limit or lane restriction rules in California. Then, your attorney can gather evidence and hire experts to help you prove your case against the defendant(s).

For more information about how an LA trucking accident lawyer can help you, contact The Ryan Law Group for a free consultation.

During the COVID-19 crisis, The Ryan Law Group is open for business and continues to be available to existing and new clients through virtual meetings and teleconferences. We can handle all of your legal needs without you leaving your house. Please, call (310) 321-4800 or contact us here to be connected to our attorneys who can get to work on your case.