NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Truck-Only Lanes Would Ease Highway Congestion

March 27, 2003

Texas Rep. Glenn Lewis (D-Fort Worth) proposes a simple and cheap solution to the states' highway congestion problem. Lewis' proposed legislation would allow the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Transportation Commission, working with local governments, to designate lanes of roadway exclusively for, or restricted to, the use of large trucks.

Indeed, these lanes have been proven - when used in regions around the nation, including a stretch of Interstate-10 in Houston - to reduce congestion and improve travel times, while decreasing accidents:

  • Trucks take up 3.8 times the road space of automobiles, but have less maneuverability and take longer to both accelerate and brake.
  • In the 1990s, Texas' truck traffic increased 48.7 percent, while other traffic rose only 26.9 percent. In the next twenty years, truck traffic could well double.
  • The Texas Public Policy Foundation found in a 2001 study that the creation of a truck highway around Austin would remove almost 400 million annual truck miles from Interstate 35 in the capitol city.

While Lewis' legislation doesn't take that large of a step, it does pave the way for a great number of innovative, low-cost solutions to the state's future transportation infrastructure needs.

  • By simply shifting large freight trucks to a certain lane, or prohibiting them from entering other lanes, traffic flow could well improve overnight.
  • Average commuters will benefit by seeing their travel times improved, as slow-moving trucks are moved out of the way.
  • Truckers will give a sigh of relief as they are separated from the often-frustrating, sometimes-dangerous, driving habits of commuters trying to get home or to work.

Everyone benefits as the number of motor vehicle-truck accidents are reduced simply by virtue of limiting the interaction between the two.

Source: Brooke Leslie Rollins, Keep Texas Safely Truckin': Truck-Only Lanes Will Reduce Congestion, Save Lives," Policy Action Update, Texas Public Policy Foundation.


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