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Big Rigs Taking Over California Freeways

Has anyone noticed the abundance of big rigs/commercial vehicles on our local California freeways? The abundance of these commercial vehicles has much to do with the construction of warehouses in close proximity or to freeways and airports for convenience of transportation of products. As such, there seems to be a greater number of these commercial vehicles monopolizing the lanes of our freeways.

Big rigs are defined as “combination vehicles.” These vehicles include cars with trailers, pickup trucks with campers, and the typical commercial big rig vehicles. The maximum speed for a commercial vehicle in the State of California is 55 miles per hour. The purpose of that speed is to keep both the commercial drivers and the surrounding vehicles safe. Other than potentially on a steep grade, when was the last time commercial vehicles were noted to be driving at the maximum speed of 55 miles per hour?

In addition to the speed requirements for these “combination vehicles,” they are only permitted to drive in certain lanes of the freeway. On freeways or two-lane highways in California, these combination vehicles are limited to travel in the slow lane, unless otherwise passing. On freeways or highways where there are three lanes, the combination vehicle is limited to traveling in the number three lane (slow lane), and permitted to enter the number two lane to pass vehicles, then must return to the number three lane (slow lane). Generally speaking, on a four-lane highway or freeway, these combination vehicles would be limited to the two slower lanes of travel.

At no point in time are the combination vehicles permitted in the number one lane (fast lane). A combination vehicle traveling out of lane, is a citable offense and a moving violation.

Why is the California Highway Patrol not citing these combination vehicles? There may be a number of reasons, including that they allegedly did not see the vehicle violate the lane or speed restriction, or were investigating accidents (which are on the rise). In addition, there seems to be a noticeable lack of or limited number of CHP vehicles on the road. The reason for this is uncertain; however, the lack of regulation has resulted in an increase of traffic accidents and deaths in the State of California.

In the 2020 calendar year, motor vehicle accident deaths increased over the 2019 year. Many of these deaths resulted from excessive speeds on freeways, and in all likelihood, due to the speed and location of these “combination vehicles.”

As driving on California freeways is a regular event for southern Californians, be aware of these big rigs, as they appear to be taking over our freeway lanes and traveling at excessive speeds.

If you are involved in an accident involving freeway traffic and big rigs, the attorneys at Heiting & Irwin are available for free consultation and representation of your claim for injuries and damages. Contact our office at your convenience.

Dennis Stout is a native Californian with significant ties to the Inland Empire, where he continues to reside. A graduate of Upland High School, the University of California, Riverside (B.S. Economics), and the University of La Verne (J.D.), Mr. Stout has practiced law continuously since 1979. He has been married to his wife, Alicia (R.N., C.E.N., M.I.C.N.) since that same year, and they have three adult children, all of whom live in Southern California. View Attorney Dennis Stout's Attorney Bio Here.

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