Can Trucks Drive in the Left Lane in the Tampa Bay Area?
October 23, 2022 | Winters & Yonker, P.A.
Commercial trucks, including semi-trailers, are some of the largest and most dangerous vehicles on Florida roads.
The Sunshine State is home to a booming trucking industry, and commercial vehicles take advantage of Florida’s interconnected system of highways to deliver goods and services. These oversized vehicles are everywhere, from small rural roads to major interstates.
When it comes to traffic laws, trucks must follow strict safety guidelines to prevent truck accidents. Even a minor collision with a commercial vehicle can result in severe consequences, including injury and death. If you drive in Florida, learn about special lane restrictions for trucks that apply to certain roads throughout the state.
Florida Truck Accident Statistics
In 2020, Florida registered upwards of 341,399 traffic accidents. Of those total crashes, large trucks and commercial vehicles weighing above 10,000 pounds were responsible for the following:
- Over 30,000 collisions
- 134 incapacitating injuries
- 462 non-incapacitating injuries
- 32 fatalities
Sadly, many truck-related accidents result from negligent driving, such as speeding, exceeding weight limits, poor vehicle maintenance, and moving violations.
One of the most contentious issues regarding Florida trucking regulations is left-lane driving. Whenever any vehicle enters the “fast lane,” it can become an obstacle when the driver fails to engage in adequate left-lane etiquette. Vehicles being operated improperly in the left lane can cause:
- Traffic backups
- Blind spots
- Impeded traffic flow
Because trucks are much larger and slower than typical passenger vehicles, their presence in the left lane, particularly on highways, can result in much more serious consequences.
Dangers of Trucks in the Left Lane
Due to their weight, size, and speed limitations, commercial trucks are physical and visual obstacles for smaller vehicles.
One of the downsides of large vehicles is their sizable blind spots. Blind spots can make it difficult for truck drivers to see other vehicles, especially at night or during lane changes.
Traffic experts recommend slower vehicles stay out of the left lane to avoid unnecessary backups. Additionally, some drivers engage in defensive driving maneuvers to try to overcome large vehicles moving into the left lane, which can lead to accidents.
Tampa Bay Left Lane Trucking Laws
For truckers in the Tampa Bay area, the most affected routes regarding left lane restrictions are Interstate 75 and Interstate 4. Both are significant causeways that serve millions of drivers each year.
Per the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), trucks are only prohibited from driving in the left lane on certain sections of six-lane interstates. Trucks in Tampa are generally free to operate on most roads without any restrictions.
Currently, there are two main stretches near Tampa Bay where trucks are prohibited from entering the left lane:
- I-75, along the Sarasota to Tampa stretch
- I-4, along the Tampa to Orlando stretch
Whenever truck drivers fail to comply with left-lane laws in Florida, they face a minimum penalty of $121 and a three-point assessment on their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Multiple violations of left-lane restrictions can result in severe consequences for truckers, including CDL suspension and revocation.
Filing a Claim Against Negligent Truck Drivers
Although truck drivers are legally required to follow some of the most strict traffic laws in the country, negligence still abounds. Accidents can happen whenever truckers fail to follow the rules of the road.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a truck driver who failed to follow left-lane restrictions, you may be eligible for compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you file a claim for any losses you suffered.
Contact the New Port Richey Truck Accident Law Firm of Winters & Yonker, P.A. for Help Today
For more information, please contact our trusted injury attorneys from Winters & Yonker, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in New Port Richey today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.