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Proposal would keep tractor-trailers out of the left lane on Michigan freeways

Costco truck on the highway
The state House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved a bill that would prevent trucks and tractor-trailers from driving in the left-most lane on the freeway. (Bridge photo by Janelle D. James)
  • Rep. William Bruck proposed a bill that would keep tractor-trailers from driving in the far left lane on freeways with three or more lanes 
  • Advocates for the bill argue that it would help mitigate traffic congestion, but opponent argue it will increase truck accidents
  • The bill was approved by the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee and is now headed to full House

Michigan is one of several states considering legislation that would limit which lanes large trucks and tractor-trailers can travel in.

A bill put forth by State Rep. William Bruck, R-Erie, would prohibit large trucks and tractor-trailers from using the far-left lane on freeways with three or more lanes. 


If one or more lanes are closed due to construction and only two lanes are open on the freeway, trucks would be required to use the right lane only. The bill makes exceptions for trucks using the left lane when making wide turns, avoiding hazardous exits or in construction zones. 


The bill is aimed at mitigating traffic congestion on freeways that larger trucks and tractor-trailers may cause, but opponents say such restrictions could lead to more accidents. 

“The left lane is a more dangerous lane especially if you have slower traffic,” Bruck told Bridge Michigan. “Certainly this is something that everyone has experienced. You’re driving down the freeway, there's heavy traffic to begin with, and then you have heavy trucks and trailers trying to pass and everyone’s going below the speed limit.” 

Bruck’s bill passed unanimously in the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee and will go to the full House for further consideration. 

State law already requires trucks, tractors and similar vehicles with a gross weight of over 10,000 pounds to stay in either of the farthest two lanes to the right, except when making a left turn.

Though there are signs posted on highways across the state reminding truck drivers to stay to the right, Bruck said the changes in his bill would give the  Michigan Department of Transportation the authority to enforce it.

“We’ll never make our roads 100 percent safe, it’s just an impossibility. But this has the ability to make them safer because it clears up that left lane for faster-moving traffic,” Bruck said. 

According to the Michigan State Police, there were 15,088 accidents statewide in 2023 that involved either buses, commercial trucks or tractor-trailers with a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more. That’s down slightly from 15,802 accidents in 2022. 

Among those speaking out against the Michigan bill and similar legislation in other states is the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents truck drivers. Such measures could have unintended consequences for truckers, the group says. 

“You're forcing truck drivers to have their interactions with cars increased by hundreds of percent because you're going to have cars that come up behind them, pass them and cut back in front of them to get off an exit ramp,” said Lewie Pugh, executive vice president for OOIDA. “The more we can (decrease) the interaction between cars and trucks the safer highways will be.”

If trucks are limited to the far right lane, it could potentially cause traffic jams for cars coming on the freeway and especially those trying to exit, Pugh said. 

“What's going to happen is these cars are going to pull out in the left lane, they're going to go flying off … and right before, they're going to cut in front of a semi,” Pugh said. 

“We all know that training people how to do things makes people better,” he said. “Let's make sure we're training our kids on how to operate around trucks and how to operate on the highway just in general.” 


Several other states have considered similar legislation.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently signed a bill into law that prohibits a truck tractor, trailer or semi-trailer from using the far-left lane on highways with at least three lanes traveling in the same direction.

A Colorado bill would keep commercial vehicles out of the left lane on a portion of Interstate 70. Lawmakers in Florida, Iowa and Oklahoma have considered legislation for all vehicles– not just trucks and tractor-trailers– that designates the far left lane as the passing lane and requires drivers to stay in the right lanes unless they are passing or for other safety measures.

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