In Texas, the left lane of a highway is typically reserved for passing. It is only acceptable to stay in the left lane in emergency situations. Texas law prohibits impeding the flow of traffic by driving too slowly in the left lane.
This could have certain implications for truckers driving in Houston and other areas of our state. Large commercial vehicles tend to move at a slower pace than smaller cars. Thus, you may assume it’s illegal for trucks to be in the left lane in Houston except when absolutely necessary. This overview will explain what you should know about the issue.
Are Truckers in Houston Allowed to Use the Left Lane?
Some states effectively exclude trucks from driving in the left lane of a highway; they may even have different speed limits for trucks. That’s not exactly how the law works in Texas.
There is no statewide law in Texas prohibiting the use of the left lane by trucks. Instead, there is a law giving local governments the power to determine whether trucks may use the left lane legally.
Houston’s law requires trucks to stay out of the left lane at certain times of day when signage indicates they must remain to the right. There are also a few freeways in Houston where truckers must stay out of the left lane 24 hours a day.
Such laws exist to minimize the odds of truck accidents. A truck in the left lane can increase the chances of accidents for various reasons.
For instance, a truck typically takes longer to accelerate than many other types of vehicles. A truck moving slowly into the left lane can result in an accident if another driver cannot slow down to avoid a collision.
Lane change crashes can also happen when truckers use the left lane since trucks are difficult to maneuver. To the best of their ability, truckers should avoid changing lanes except when absolutely necessary.
How to Avoid Truck Accidents
Exercise a high level of caution if you are driving on a highway in Houston and spot a truck in the left lane. You may feel the impulse to speed up and pass a truck in the right lane as a means of preventing an accident. However, this could actually increase the chances that an accident will occur. The safer option in many instances may be to wait until a truck returns to its proper lane.
Unfortunately, accidents can occur when truckers violate Houston’s left lane laws. Victims of such accidents can seek compensation for their medical bills and other damages after the crash. They may file claims to collect from the insurance of the trucking company. To show that they deserve compensation, they must prove that a trucker’s negligence caused an accident.
If they were breaking one of Houston’s left lane driving laws at the time of the accident, you might be able to show they were negligent per se. This legal theory makes it easier to prove a negligence case where a defendant broke a safety law and caused an injury.
That said, suppose you contributed to the accident by speeding, distracted driving, or other dangerous behavior. Your level of fault for the accident could impact how much compensation you recover. Texas has a modified comparative fault law. This law will reduce your compensation to account for your share of the blame for the truck accident.
This highlights the importance of obeying traffic laws at all times when driving in Houston. Doing so is key to staying safe. It can also play an important role in your case if you ever have to seek compensation after a truck accident.