What Are Rolling Roadblocks?
Rolling roadblocks are a name for a tactic that has been used by police to control and slow down traffic. An officer may weave across the lanes from side to side, or, the preferred method is to have the patrol cars drive abreast, one in each respective lane.
A rolling roadblock by police typically slows traffic while roadwork is being done, or a hazard is present on the roadway, ranging from a tire casing across a lane to a major collision scene.
Are trucks legally allowed to block traffic with a rolling roadblock?
Traffic laws in the U.S. are enforced by their respective states. One of the basic rules of driving is that slower traffic should stay to the right, unless passing. Some states ban trucks in the left lane.
PA § 3301. Driving on right side of roadway.
(a) General rule.–Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway
Pennsylvania, for example, like many states, recognizes a vehicle would be in the left lane if:
- Overtaking and passing another vehicle
- An obstruction exists in the right lane
- An official traffic-control devices block the right lane
- Upon a roadway restricted to one-way traffic
- Making a left turn or following a left-leading
Driving in the left lane (without returning to the right lane when it is safe to do so) is considered a civil infraction (a driver will be fined and pay court costs) under (MCL 257.634 in Michigan.
Another issue to take into consideration is the fact that what is not enforced in one state, may be enforced in another state or even in a different part of the same state.
Trucks engaging in a rolling roadblock could be ticketed for:
- impeding traffic (OH)
- obstructing traffic (PA)
- improper passing
- improper lane use (MI)
Key Driver Indoctrination Points
Truck drivers should not participate in creating rolling roadblocks.
Law enforcement may consider a rolling roadblock, even with good intention, the same as drivers taking traffic control into their own hands — an illegal act.
Motorcycles have been encouraged by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to use the shoulder for safety during expressway slowdowns. Lane splitting (the practice of riding a motorcycle between clearly marked lanes) by motorcycles in slow expressway traffic is considered an “option” for motorcycles in California. Trucks should not move over in their lanes or to other lanes to impede motorcycles.
More states are encouraging merging traffic to blend together in what is known as the zipper merge.
Treat all merging traffic with common courtesy and expect other drivers to make mistakes.
Do not take right-of-way. Right of way can only be granted — never taken.
Train and indoctrinate your drivers about the legal consequences of engaging in rolling roadblocks.
Set clear expectations in driver handbooks and company policy (in writing) about rolling roadblocks, interacting with motorcycles and merging.
Thank you for reading this.
John Taratuta is a trucking safety advocate and Risk Engineer.