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DOT to Restrict Trucks From Passing Lanes on Busy Interstate Sections

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RALEIGH — TheNorth Carolina Department of Transportationis expected to approve a safety measure Friday to keep tractor trailer trucks out of the fast lane on more stretches of highway.

While some motorists and lawmakers believe the law would increase safety on the roads, truck drivers worry that it will only slow delivery times.

"It's a great idea because it's dangerous for them to be in the left-hand lane," says motorist Carolyn Steffen.

Transportation secretary Norris Tolsonagrees, and says the lane restrictions are one part of a safety package designed to make roads safer for cars and trucks. The car drivers say it is about time.

"If they slow down or they speed up, it's just terribly dangerous," Steffen said. "It just makes driving really hazardous."

Truckers say it is a small number of dangerous drivers in their ranks, that gives all of them a bad name. They say the economy runs when trucks can make fast runs, and that the lane restrictions will just slow them down.

"They know we can't get in the left lane, they block the other two lanes, then we have no where to go," says truck driver Joseph Garner. "And the trucking industry has a time limit of when you have to get the packages down the road to their destination. [Truck drivers] pay just as much taxes as everybody else, so I don't think it's fair."

Like it or not, if the new rules go into effect, breaking them will cost the truck drivers.

"It's an $86 court cost, and a $10 fine," says Lt. Dave Moody with theNorth Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

If approved it will take several weeks for the new rules to go into effect. The DOT will have to put up road signs and pavement markings, which will cost $500,000.

Right now, trucks are not allowed in the left lane on a stretch of I-40 in westernWake County.

The new restrictions would stretch from Glen Eden Drive around the north side of the beltline all the way to Lake Dam Road. The left lanes on that stretch of the beltline will be limited to passenger vehicles only.

Parts of I-40 in the Piedmont, I-85 in Charlotte and stretches of interstate in the mountains will also be included.