California Truck Lane Restrictions

trucks on highway

One thing that really upsets me when I am commuting to and from work is when I see big rig trucks in the fast lane. We have done a post in the past about how the left (fast) lane is solely for the purpose of passing. and being back from my road trip, most other states have it posted that you should only drive in the left lane while passing. However, if you have been stuck either behind or sandwiched between two trucks, you know my frustration. Due to my personal frustration with this, and working for an auto accident lawyer, I wanted to do my research. Below, I am going to go over California’s laws against big rig trucks driving in the left passing lane. Check with your state’s laws if you are unsure of this policy. If you need a car accident attorney in Orange County, contact us.

Car Accident Attorney | Types of Lane Restrictions

Though not all states have regulations prohibiting trucks from the left lane, however, all states do have regulations in regards to how they use these lanes. for instance, some states allow trucks to use the left lane to pass slower moving vehicles. While other states have a law that do not allow trucks in the left lane whatsoever. It should be noted that even if there is not a statewide law that prohibits trucks from using the left lane, local governments may impose restrictions on certain roadways and highways.

California’s Left Lane Law

Below, we are going to go over the restrictions of California’s state law when it comes to trucks in the left lane:

  • Restrictions:
    • trucks must use lane(s) designated by signs;
    • If there is no designated lane, trucks must use the right hand;
    • If there are four or more lanes, trucks may use to the second-to-right-hand lane;
    • to pass, trucks must use designated second-to-right lane
  • Who the law applies to:
    • motor trucks;
    • truck tractors with three or more axles;
    • truck tractors trailing another vehicle
  • Penalties:
    • 1st offense:
      • fines of up to $100
    • 2nd offense in one year:
      • fines of up to $200
    • 3rd offense in one year:
      • fined of up to $250

California Vehicle Codes 22406, 21655, 21654

Reduced Speeds

The following CVC section lists the vehicles that must drive at reduced speeds:

22406. No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour:

(a) a motortruck or truck tractor having three or more axles or any motortruck or truck tractor drawing any other vehicle.

Designated Lanes for Vehicles With A 55 Mph Speed Limit

Vehicles that are required to travel at a maximum of 55 mph on California highways must use a designated lane or lanes, as stated in the CVC below:

21655. (a) … (b) Any … vehicle subject to the provisions of Section 22406 shall be driven in the lane or lanes designated … whenever signs have been erected… . …, when a specific lane or lanes have not been so designated, … those vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right edge or curb. If, however, a specific lane or lanes have not been designated on a divided highway having four or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, … those vehicles may also be driven in the lane to the immediate left of that right-hand lane, …

When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, the driver shall use either the designated lane, the lane to the immediate left of the right-hand lane, or the right-hand lane for traffic … This subdivision does not apply to a driver who is preparing for a left- or right-hand turn or who is entering into or exiting from a highway or to a driver who must … drive in a lane other than the right-hand lane to continue on his or her intended route.

Designated Lanes For Slower Moving Vehicles

The following CVC section also mentions using the right-hand lane for slower moving vehicles:

21654. (a) …, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction … shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

What This Means

When driving on the highways, especially in California, there are a large amount of commercial vehicles. It’s difficult to not notice and to not become a little anxious when trucks are driving in lanes they aren’t supposed to be in. With that being said, California has placed various restrictions on trucks. Our state not only regulates large trucks with three or more axles, but also vehicles that are towing other vehicles, motorhomes, and U-Hauls. These vehicles are restricted to a speed limit of 55mph on the highways. Which, in turn, means that these vehicles should only be using the left (fast) lane for passing slower vehicles.

Trucks & Lane Restrictions

The state of California limits the lanes that larger vehicles can travel. Studies have shown that the significant variance in speed on the highways is actually a contributing factor when it comes to accidents. for instance, when you are constantly speeding up and slowing down, there is a greater chance of accidents occurring. for these particular reasons, California does not allow slower moving vehicles in the left lanes.

With that, the number of lanes that are available to trucks greatly depends on the number of lanes on the highway. for instance, if you are traveling down a 4 lane highway, big rigs should be sticking to the right two slower lanes.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is tasked with enforcing these lane restrictions – though, I have to tell you, it does not always happen. However, if you are driving on the roads here in Southern California, you may see some CHP officers pulled over to the side, ticketing these big rig trucks for not following the rules. When trucks and other large, slow moving vehicles do not follow these rules, it puts others on the road in danger.

Injured? Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer Today!

Suffering from injuries due to the negligent actions of a big rig or larger vehicle can be devastating. Contact a truck accident lawyer in our office today. Every car accident attorney in our office knows that the only thing that matters is getting you back on your feet. We will never bow down to the insurance adjusters. Our attorneys are all too familiar with how insurance adjusters work and that they will try to bully you into accepting an offer that is nowhere near adequate. We will fight for your right to heal. Silverthorne Attorneys will help you get set up with medical professionals that will help you on your healing journey. If you need an attorney in Orange County, contact us today.