South Carolina May Limit Truck Drivers to One Lane

South Carolina may soon create a truck-only lane along the far left side on a seven-mile stretch on I-26 in Charleston, South Carolina. Legislators cite the growing port in Charleston as the cause of increased tractor-trailer presence and accidents between Cosgrove Avenue to Ashley Phosphate Road on I-26.

“If we can save a life, it is our responsibility to act. The only way to be proactive is to go ahead and try something that would be feasible for that area,” Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston), the sponsor of the bill, said. “It’s a safety issue. You don’t want trucks in the middle lane or the far right. In that scenario, you end up having lanes blocked near exits. With trucks to the far left, cars can proceed around them..

The value of truck-only lanes has long been debated by urban planners and traffic safety officials. In theory, truck-only lanes ensure that trucks do not intermingle with passenger vehicles and, thus, present less likelihood of collision. These lanes, however, effectively reduce road and highway size and thereby represent an added cost to the state. Some states have proposed special truck-only tolls, but such moves are strongly resisted by the trucking industry especially in a time when truck-related fatalities are decreasing. The cause of the decrease in accidents–whether because of the recession or increased safety– is still being debated.

Gillard asked the state Secretary of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study for a truck-only lane in August after witnessing a 9-hour traffic delay due to a truck accident. Gillard filed his proposal recently. The bill will not be voted on until the new session begins in January.

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