Trucks May Need to Get Out of the Fast Lane

Lane-restriction tests in Dallas, Tarrant counties come back positive

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Tractor-trailers would be forbidden in the left lane on many more miles of North Texas freeways under a recommendation from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

For several years, truck lane restrictions have been tested on an 11-mile stretch of Interstate 20 in Dallas County and 18 miles of Interstate 30 in Tarrant County.

"All the performance measures are positive," said Michael Morris, an NCTCOG transportation planner. "The reliability of the road increases because there's less accidents, air-quality benefits improve, there's reduced energy consumption, (and) speeds for all users increase."

Ninety percent of the drivers in an NCTCOG survey favored expanding the restrictions to more North Texas freeways.

But many cross-country truck drivers oppose the rules, including several at Fuel City in Dallas on Monday.

"Sometimes that left lane is all you got," said driver Kenneth Rose. "Traffic gets backed up so far, you've got to get over. You can't, because you can't be in the left lane. I don't think it's right."

Business is already slow, said driver Enrique Hernandez, of McAllen. He said he believes lane restrictions slow trucks passing through busy North Texas.

"You loose a lot of time, and if you loose time, you loose money," Hernandez said.

Morris said expanded lane restrictions will be good for all drivers in the long run, including truckers.

"By increasing safety and reducing accidents, they'll spend less of their time in some huge queue due to some incident or accident that occurred in front of them," Morris said.

Dallas Teamsters Union leaders said they support truck lane restrictions. Brent Taylor, Local 745 secretary-treasurer, said most of his members work for companies that impose speed restrictions on drivers that keep them out of the left lane anyway.

"It takes approximately a football field long to stop an 18-wheeler going 50 miles an hour," Taylor said ."So when it come to safety, our members are very aware, and they do not have an issue with that."

Plans call for expanding the restrictions on Interstate 45, Interstate 20 and Interstate 30 by next spring.

Additional studies and documentation are required to expand beyond that. But planners said they hope to eventually post lane restrictions on Interstate 35E, Interstate 35W and U.S. 75 Central Expressway through North Texas.

"We're trying to increase the safety of the corridors; we’re trying to increase the reliability of these corridors," Morris said.

Click here to see the maps of the current lane restrictions and proposed restrictions and read NCTCOG's presentation to the Dallas City Council Transportation and Environment Committee.

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