You are driving on the freeway, navigating the usual traffic. You enter the left lane to get to your destination as quickly as possible. But once you change lanes, you find that you are stuck behind a large tractor-trailer–and it is moving very slowly.

Commercial trucks driving in the left lane can certainly be frustrating. Many motorists do not realize that these trucks can also be dangerous. Eighteen-wheelers taking up the left lane often contribute to dangerous accidents. Fortunately, North Carolina created a law to address and prevent this.

Why is it dangerous for trucks to drive in the left lane?

Generally, drivers stay in the right lane when they wish to exit or enter the freeway or drive slowly. The left lane is for drivers who wish to travel quickly. Commercial trucks cannot always move as fast as passenger cars. Some trucks that drive in the left lane travel below the speed limit, impeding the flow of other vehicles. A large, slow-moving semi could contribute to an accident–especially if other drivers expect the left lane to be the “fast lane.” And when semi-trucks are involved in an accident, the damage can be catastrophic.

What are North Carolina’s left-lane laws?

North Carolina’s so-called “left-lane laws,” or “no trucks in the left lane” laws, are less restrictive than other states’. However, the law does regulate the speed of commercial trucks. In our state, commercial trucks–and any other vehicle–may not drive slower than the speed limit when in the left lane if it impedes traffic. The one exception is when a truck must use the lane to turn left. The penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to $100.

Use caution near trucks in the left lane

It is not always possible to avoid truck accidents, but drivers can take proactive measures to stay safe. Maintain a safe distance from trucks to ensure that the driver can see you. Take note of the truck’s speed, and adjust yours accordingly.

If a truck does cause an accident, seek medical attention immediately. Get the truck driver’s contact information and license plate number. Then, consider whether you want to recover monetary compensation.