While the average driver can get along quite happily not too concerned with truck zones, our fellow truck family of professional drivers have their work cut out for them when it comes to driving through a truck zone.
Not only do they have to react to the other vehicles around them, but they also have to deal with crawling at a lower speed limit than the rest, and here’s why!
Here’s a quick answer to What are the Trucking Zones:
Trucking zones are specific road lanes where heavy-duty vehicles such as semi-trucks must drive. These zones are there to optimize traffic flow and to ensure safe driving zones where tight spots and steep hills exist. Trucking zones can also refer to demarcated areas where a truck can rest or stop.
What is a Trucking Zone in the United States?
After the second world war, the bureau of public roads realized that the need for truck lanes (Trucking zones) was something that required investigating.
They researched the state of Arizona and found that as well as building new highways they would also have to remodel old ones through the mountains.
America gave birth to the truck zones after a careful study of heavy truck speeds on steep uphill mountain grades and open highway uphill grades.
In some areas, this means the truck drivers should adhere to the speed limits due to the risk of high winds, which the vehicle is more at risk when it isn’t carrying a load and in other areas generally but not solely on a three-lane (in each direction) interstate where there is a slight gradient.
In other cases, the truck zone sign is simply in place to increase air quality by reducing the amount of fuel consumption.
These signs are clearly posted well in advance and should not be ignored as they have been out there for safety reasons. some truckers use hazard warning lights to allow other vehicles to react and adjust their speed accordingly.
In these truck zone areas, the truck driver should keep to the right-hand lane and avoid using the left.
However, as stated by the Department of Transportation, this does not apply when the truck needs to pass other motor vehicles provided there is enough time and it is safe to do so.
There are even some truck zones with restrictions that have times and days of use.
Some states that even go as far as having boundaries for large vehicles to which the truck driver is asked to download what is known as “Guest Access”.
The driver then has to login for an alternative route to their destination. Although this is not clearly stated as a truck zone, it does pose restrictions to any large vehicle traveling through that particular district which would then makes it a truck zone.
Truck zones are also a safe place for the drivers to rest in designated parking areas.
What is the Purpose of a Trucking Zone?
Trucking zones in the United States are also known as crawler lanes and are put in place in high-risk areas to minimize road traffic accidents by restricting truck drivers to a lower speed limit.
This also reduces emissions by way of easing congestion and has less impact on the mechanics of the truck.
The original truck zones were put in place to control the flow of up and downhill traffic, limiting the vehicles to a slower speed than the other lanes.
This applied not only heavy vehicles but also included passenger cars pulling house trailers as well as older vehicles with limited power, which may have caused them to overheat.
A study conducted in the 1950s proved that by putting truck zones in critical places where the above-listed vehicles may struggle, would result in saving the average motorist paying the cost of construction of these uphill lanes and passing bays.
What are the Trucking Zones?
Trucking zones are not a singly defined subject in the United States.
It not only refers to the above subject of crawler lanes or passing lanes (for other vehicles) but also to the best route a heavy goods vehicle.
Heavy-duty vehicles can use trucking zones to avoid low bridges and restricted zones or simply reduce the amount of road maintenance a heavy vehicle can cause.
While this subject is difficult to search even in today’s modern times with the world at our fingertips, the best explanation we can give as a result of our research is that there are millions of trucking zones.
Trucking zones are signposted or clearly marked on the surface of the road. The trucking zones are where a heavy/large vehicle is to obey the road traffic regulations set out.
Although heavy-duty vehicles should obey all the regulations, trucking zones are put in place as it will cause danger to other motorists on the road if the regulations are ignored.
Do you have to follow Road Regulations when Driving in Trucking Zones?
Yes! all road regulations are set out for your own safety and the safety of the public and other road users around you.
Some states have clearly marked large signs in place which warn truck drivers of a $120 fine for not sticking to the regulations, which is another good reason to follow the rules.
I’m sure we have all been behind a truck on the interstate at some point in our driving lives, where the truck wasn’t sticking to the regulations for whatever reason and they were traveling in the wrong lane leaving you stuck behind them.
This can leave you frustrated and sometimes a little late not to mention you have now burnt more fuel than was necessary.
This was only to find the truck driver was just being impatient and frustrated themselves as they wanted to pass the slower vehicle just by traveling 5 mph faster, and it took them five minutes to pass them!
This is why it is important to follow road regulations. It is for safety and not just a law set by the department of transportation but a moral obligation to our fellow commuters.
Where will you find Trucking Zones?
Generally, you will find trucking zones/lanes in the far right-hand lane on highways and interstates where you may or may not notice a slight change in the grade going up or/and downhill.
Can Other Vehicles drive in Trucking Zones?
Some states have a road regulation where drivers must keep to the right-hand lane unless overtaking, which means slower vehicles and those of you wanting to cruise along at a relaxed pace can indeed use the trucking zones.
When it comes to truck rest areas it can be quite intimidating, and you may feel out of place but anyone can use these areas to get some rest, eat or take a shower.
There may be costs attached to the last two services but resting when you need to is far more important than saving a few bucks.
Just be sure to park in a spot that will not inconvenience other people resting, particularly the trucks, and be sure to have plenty of rest and drive safe.
Are there “No Zones” for Truck Drivers?
A “no zone” for trucks covers two separate areas of trucking:
1) The Blind Spots of a Truck
There are several blind spots to a truck where the driver can not see the vehicles around them.
A great piece of advice for staying safe is telling the driver of the other vehicles to make sure they can see the face of the truck driver in their mirror, that way they’ll be able to see you.
Check this really cool video on avoiding the blind spots of a truck:
Our tips on these “no-zones”:
- Pass the truck as soon as safely possible.
- Do not stay in any of the blind spots for any amount of time where possible.
- Sound your horn (none aggressively) if you feel the truck may change lanes and hasn’t seen you.
- Where possible and safe to do so move two lanes away from the truck until you have passed it, allowing plenty of space to move back to your original lane.
- And of course – see the truck driver in their mirror.
2) Restricted Areas where Trucks Shouldn’t Go
There are many “no zones” for truck drivers, all of which are covered in their training. But with the pressures of keeping to a schedule by your dispatcher, a rookie can often make the mistake of missing a road sign or rushing.
Here are our tips on spotting “no zones” and dealing with them:
- Truck GPS – while a truck GPS will guide a truck around “no zones” it shouldn’t be fully relied upon.
- Relax and take your time, rushing is never safe, especially when behind the wheel of a truck.
- Plan the road and your route in advance – if there are diversions stop and take the time to search a safe alternative route.
- Judge the road based on what you see (signs etc.) if in doubt stop, get out and have a look around.
- Low bridges – staying focused and remembering the size of your vehicle will keep you and everyone else safe.
- Weak bridges – if you happen to miss a sign, make a judgement call. Stop and assess the bridge. Call it in.
- Narrow passes and roads – there will be times where you may have to reroute. Again plan ahead and take your time. Safety first!
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to contact shipping. They can give you guidance on where you can or can not go and they’ll give you the proper directions (not for your entire route of course).
They can also advise you of any road closures or diversions in the area and give you a safe alternative route.