Trucking interests are condemning a new piece of legislation in the New Jersey General Assembly that would exclude most trucks from using the left-hand lane of any highway with two lanes of travel in the same direction.
In a statement, Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, and Eric DeGesero, executive director of the Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey, said the bill (Assembly Bill A-4470) "would create a traffic and safety nightmare on all New Jersey major roadways by greatly impeding the flow of traffic for trucks."
Under current law trucks weighing 10,000 pounds registered gross weight or greater cannot be in the farthest left-hand lane if there are three or more lanes of traffic moving in one direction.
A-4470, sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Egan (D-Middlesex) will change that to highways with two lanes in the same direction. This means all trucks 10,000 lbs. or greater must be in the right lane only. This is any vehicle the size of a Ford F-350 or greater, according to the statement from Toth and DeGesero.
Truckers preparing for a left turn, those entering or leaving the roadway by a left entrance or exit, and those responding to emergency conditions would be exempted.
The bill also doubles the fines for trucks found traveling in the left-most lanes. Fines would be increased to between $200 to $600.
"If enacted, this bill will needlessly delay the movement of goods," said Toth and DeGesero. "Of far greater concern is the safety nightmare this will cause merging onto highways and entering and exiting businesses."
The two said the National Association of Motorists opposed the bill in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
"According to Choose New Jersey, 'New Jersey is one of the world’s fastest-growing hubs for logistics and distribution.' It is not possible to both be a 'hub for logistics and distribution' and hate trucks," said the statement from Toth and DeGesero.
The two also said Port Newark is now the busiest port in the United States and one of the state’s largest employers. This legislation will encourage shippers to look elsewhere, they added.
The two associations urged members of the General Assembly to vote no on A-4470. It is to be considered Thursday and has no companion bill in the Senate.