When you are driving on the highways California, it can be nerve-wracking to operate around large commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large semi-trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. Due to the size and weight of these vehicles, any collision with a passenger vehicle is likely to be severe and could result in significant injuries. California has implemented several regulations regarding truck drivers, including limiting the lanes that truck drivers can operate in.
According to data available from the FMCSA, there were nearly 160,000 total crashes involving large trucks across the country during the latest reporting you. Out of these incidents, 4,649 people lost their lives, and more than 77,000 people were injured.
One way in which the state of California has sought to ensure a stable traffic flow while also increasing highway safety is to limit vehicle travel in left-hand lanes. Most people understand just how annoying it can be to be stuck behind a big truck in the left-hand lane of a highway. Not only is this irritating, but it can be dangerous.
Under California’s vehicle code, any vehicle that is traveling at a speed that is less than the normal rate for a highway must operate in the right-hand lanes when they are not passing a vehicle. These regulations apply to any vehicle on California highways, not just large commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks.
However, depending on how many lanes are on a highway, commercial truck drivers face even further restrictions about where they are allowed to drive. For California highways that have three lanes or less traveling in the same direction, large trucks must operate only in the right-hand lane. On California highways in which there are four or more lanes traveling in the same direction, truck drivers are allowed to operate only in the two right-hand lanes. If a truck needs to pass other vehicles on the roadway, the driver must use a designated lane, a right hand Lane, or the second-to-right lane to pass.
The state of California also has two separate truck-only lanes located on Interstate 5. On these sections of the highway, trucks must follow black-and-white enforceable road signs and operate only in the designated truck lanes.
Drivers of large commercial trucks who operate in the left lane of a highway are essentially breaking California traffic laws and can face significant penalties. For a first offense, a driver can face a fine of up to $100. Second offenses can result in a $200 fine and third offenses can result in a $250 fine.
All of the regulations regarding commercial vehicles in California are designed to ensure maximum safety. Accidents involving large commercial trucks are often severe. It is not uncommon for those inside passenger vehicles involved in a large truck crash to sustain spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken and dislocated bones, lacerations or amputations, internal injuries, and more. In an effort to prevent these accidents and injuries from occurring, the California Highway Patrol will strictly enforce commercial truck driver travel and lane usage. If you or somebody you love was injured in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver or company, contact a qualified Irvine truck accident attorney at Callahan & Blaine to learn more about your legal options.