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Ask A Trooper: What Lanes Are Semi Trucks Allowed to Use on the Freeway?

Washington State Patrol District 1 spokesperson and recruiter Guy Gill answers your questions about the rules of the road.

Q: Are semi trucks allowed to travel in any lane on the freeway, or are they restricted to the right lanes?

A: On the freeway, commercial vehicles cannot travel in the left lane when there are three or more lanes. They are not required to be in the far right lane and can legally use the right two lanes.

Troopers do see semi trucks traveling in the left lane and we do pull them over. The majority of infractions we give to commercial vehicles are for weight violations and semis account for only a small percentage of highway collisions.

Passenger vehicles are also prohibited from traveling in the left lane, except for passing. In Pierce and Thurston counties, that message is clearly posted on the left side of the freeway.

The left lane is designed to facilitate good traffic flow, so get out of the far left lane, unless you’re passing another car. 

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Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter. 

phillip February 25, 2013 at 02:43 PM
seroiusly MARK BENNETT.. do you know anything about trucking? Those loaded semi-trucks also pay road taxes, learn a little before you go blabbing about stuff you know nothing about.
MB February 25, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Be very careful about posting to Mark Bennett. He has a tendancy to bully everyone and work hard to take over posts like this so he can spew his extreme beliefs.
lori nelson March 05, 2013 at 04:47 PM
True, semi-trucks pay a separate "road tax" but does that give them the right to abuse the law concerning lane use in this state. I drive the I-5 corridor frequently. They drive in the LEFT lane consistently, not to pass. Last night traveling to Mt. Vernon truck in left lane... his speed 70mph. He did not move over for 10 miles. He was not the only abuser last night, he just drove the farthest. They block line of sight, speed and move into other lanes un-intentionally. The state patrol needs to start enforcing the 3 & 4 lane rule in this state. You never experience this while driving in Ore. or Calif.
Jerry Omli March 05, 2013 at 05:15 PM
I have always wanted to hear what the tail gaters are thinking when I'm doing the speed-limit+ a little. Mind you, tail gating is also illegal. So what exactly were you planning to do after you 'passed' the semi going the maximum legal speed of 70? (Since you did not pass on the right -legal-, I assume that there was a lot of traffic.) Is there some law that gives you the right to 'speed'? I really just don't understand the process in your head. Can you explain why you can break the speed limit?
lori nelson March 06, 2013 at 06:08 AM
J. O. Tail-gaters aren't thinking anything, They have bad driving habits to begin with plus don't have the knowledge that they will never be able to avoid a rear end collision if lead car has to suddenly stop. On another note when did 70 mph become the maximum legal speed for a semi-truck? I never wrote that I passed the semi-truck. Excuse me, you must be responding to an earlier post some where in this thread. My error.

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