A recent report reveals that truck-related accidents along a heavily traveled 8-mile stretch of Houston’s I-10 have dropped by half since an experiment banning big rigs from the inside lanes began last September.
The Houston City Council authorized an ordinance in August barring trucks with more than three axles from using the inside lanes in either direction, except to pass. State law allows municipalities to impose lane restrictions, if they have received the permission from the Texas Department of Transportation. This is the first road restriction imposed on commercial vehicles in Texas. Truck drivers caught in the restricted lanes can be fined up to $200.
The restrictions seem to be working. Police recorded 53 commercial vehicle accidents along the Interstate 10 route from Sept. 25 through Jan. 25, 2001 – down from 107 truck accidents along the same stretch during the same period a year earlier. In addition to the drop in commercial truck accidents, all vehicle accidents along the stretch of freeway have declined. Police recorded 111 accidents involving non-commercial vehicles during the four months of study period - down from 212 the previous year.
If the program is adopted permanently and copied to other locations in the city, Texas will join about 40 other states with municipalities that restrict truck traffic.