The California Highway Patrol was created in 1929 to provide uniformed traffic law enforcement throughout the state. Ensuring the safe, convenient and efficient transportation of people and goods on the highway system is still our primary purpose. This week’s article closely aligns with our purpose and our mission: to get you where you are going in a safe manner.
The large presence of commercial vehicles in this state results in approximately 30 million miles of travel every day. For that reason, the CHP has established a goal of preventing the loss of life, injuries and property damage through an innovative commercial vehicle safety program encompassing enforcement, education, engineering and partnerships to minimize the disastrous results from collisions involving commercial vehicles.
Have you ever wondered why some CHP officers drive pickups with camper shells and wear a blue utility uniform, rather than the commonly recognized tan uniform? Most often these officers are part of the CHP’s Commercial Mobile Road Enforcement Unit. The primary mission of the unit is to ensure the safe and efficient operation of commercial vehicles on California highways.
An “out of lane” violation is one of those commercial violations we have all heard about, but one might not know exactly what the law says about being in the “wrong” lane. In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, traffic collisions and road rage, the CHP is reminding motorists to be mindful of lane restriction laws.
Many motorists believe these laws only apply to “big rigs,” when in fact these laws apply to any vehicle in combination, traveling on any street, highway or freeway. The term “in combination” means any vehicle towing another vehicle. In addition to trucks with three or more axles (i.e., big rigs and semi-trucks), lane-restricted vehicles also include but are not limited to the following:
▪ Rental vehicle (U-Haul/Ryder/Enterprise) towing a trailer
▪ Truck, pickup or car towing a boat trailer, camp trailer or moving trailer
▪ Motor home (RV) towing a trailer
▪ Van, minivan or bus towing a trailer
▪ Any vehicle towing another vehicle
▪ Any vehicle towing a fifth wheel, pull or semi-trailer
A frequently-asked question is: “Are big rigs allowed in the No. 2 lane of a three-lane freeway?” The answer is yes, under very specific rules. They are allowed to pass slower moving vehicles as long as they do not exceed the maximum 55 mph speed limit. Any big rig or vehicle in combination is then required to move back to the No. 3 lane (slow lane) as soon as possible. Big rigs are also allowed to travel in the No. 2 lane when signs are posted.
Speed restrictions also apply to certain vehicles. Vehicle Code Section 22406 states: No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 mph:
▪ A motor truck or truck tractor having three or more axles or any motor truck or truck tractor drawing any other vehicle.
▪ A passenger vehicle or bus drawing any other vehicle.
▪ A school bus transporting any school pupil.
▪ A farm labor vehicle when transporting passengers.
▪ A vehicle transporting explosives.
As summer approaches and we begin to plan our activities like boating, Jet Skiing and camping, the CHP wants to remind you to think about safety first.
The next time you see a big rig, take a look at the rear trailer. I know I pay attention to the back of such trucks with the signs reading “left side passing side, right side suicide.” This is a great tip from our truck drivers. My dad taught me years ago as I began on my driving journey: “If you cannot see them, they cannot see you!”