Stephen Hasner | Georgia Law | July 5, 2022
Commercial semi-trucks, also known as 18-wheelers or “big rigs,” are a ubiquitous part of Georgia highways. While these giants may seem to effortlessly glide along the highways, the truth is that they can be dangerous, especially on the busy interstates surrounding Atlanta or the congested downtown city streets.
That’s why the state of Georgia regulates where larger vehicles are legally allowed to travel.
Trucking regulations limit the maximum speeds drivers can travel — typically 55-65 miles per hour. But any Atlanta driver will tell you that these trucks are often the slowest-moving vehicles on the road, and when they travel in the left lane, they can be a serious threat to road safety. Trucks driving in the left lane can be dangerous, and here’s why.
Dangers of Semi-Trucks Traveling in the Left Lane
Like many Atlanta drivers, you’ve probably been stuck behind a slow-moving truck on the highway. Besides being frustrating, slow-moving trucks in the left lane can be potentially dangerous. The sheer size of a semi-truck — often 80,000 pounds when fully loaded — means that it’s not as nimble or easily maneuvered as a passenger car.
Additionally, it takes trucks a long time and distance to stop, and when passenger cars are darting in and out around trucks in the left lane, there’s more opportunity for a dangerous commercial vehicle collision.
Navigating around trucks in the left lane means that other drivers aren’t making defensive driving decisions. Cars trying to get around a slow-moving semi-truck create problems.
Other drivers may be breaking the law. In Georgia, it’s illegal to pass another vehicle on the right. Passing on the right forces an unnecessary lane change for vehicles going faster than the speed of traffic. More lane changes mean more chances of a collision.
If a semi-truck breaks down or loses a tire, necessitating an emergency stop, then they may be forced to pull onto the left shoulder instead of the right, which is a safety threat to vehicles in the left lane traveling at higher speeds.
Also, semis take longer to speed up and match the flow of traffic, making unsafe situations even more dangerous.
Georgia Laws Regarding Semi-Truck Lanes
Georgia law sets forth exactly which lanes semi-trucks are permitted to drive in. It defines a semi-truck as any vehicle with more than six wheels, except a motorcoach or bus. The definition includes commercial trucks, moving trucks, and similar commercial vehicles.
The law states that on highways, streets, or roads with three or more lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction, trucks are not legally allowed to drive in any lanes other than the two right lanes unless a truck is preparing to make a left turn. This is because semi-trucks require a much larger space than passenger cars and SUVs when turning.
On roads, highways, or streets with two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction, a truck isn’t legally allowed to drive in the left lane unless the truck is actively passing and overtaking another vehicle or if the driver is preparing for a left turn.
Are There Truck-Only Lanes in Georgia?
Truck-only lanes are lanes designated exclusively for semi-trucks. They allow a smoother flow of traffic by keeping trucks out of the other lanes of the highway. Although California is the only state to have truck-only lanes, many other states, including Georgia, might implement them soon.
Pay attention when traveling through large cities like Atlanta, and be on the lookout for truck-only lanes so you can travel more safely. Accidents involving semi-trucks can be especially devastating, even deadly, so it’s more important than ever to give them space on the road and to pay attention to the traffic ahead of you.
Contact the Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help
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