Throughout my years as a driver, nothing has puzzled me quite as much as the differences each state has posted for vehicles on their highways. None of course more perplexing than those set here in my home state of California! With longtime speed limits for automobiles in rural areas of 70mph, along with the requirement for trucks to be limited to the right two lanes of travel, the truck speed limit of 55mph statewide has always been something I saw as a safety hazard and not a safety measure.
So if you’ve ever driven into California in a truck from one of its neighboring states, you know that it feels like you have just slowed to a crawl once you hit that state line! The feeling of crawling is worsened by the fact that most automobiles seem to have a cruising speed of 80-90mph, even though the posted speed is only as high as 70mph in rural areas. This draws up images in my head of trucks being giant “speed bumps” in the way of most California automobile’s daily commutes! Especially due to the fact that these fast vehicles have to deal with trucks and trailered vehicles being limited to the right lanes of travel and a set limit of 55mph, but still have to reach safe highway speeds prior to merging. It’s the vehicular equivalent of shoving a stick in the spokes of a bicycle peddling along at full speed!
Never did I think that California would be one of the last strongholds to keep the split truck speed limit of 55mph. In my eyes when I used to pull long-haul, I surely thought no one would outlast The Buckeye State in holding onto the 55mph limit on truck speed, but surely California never ceases to amaze me in their holding onto dilapidated regulations! Relief may be in the cards though in the form of CA AB172, introduced to California legislators for voting in the 2019-2020 general session. Sponsored by California Assemblymember Randy Voepel [R], this bill aims to finally do away with the “Double Nickel” 55mph speed limit for trucks, finally allowing a speed of 65mph in rural areas. Not only will this in my opinion aid in safety and frustration of the general motoring public, but it will also aid in goods movement across one of the largest states in the country.
Since I am a numbers guy, a simple calculation lends me to the simple fact that the journey on Interstate 5 from top to bottom could be reduced by as much as 1-2 hours of transit time by raising the speed limit to 65mph, with much of this interstate being considered rural. Not only would it aid in the efficiency of goods movement, but the motoring public would not have as many “75-foot long rolling speed bumps” traveling along at a sluggish 55mph speed to deal with being in their way anymore. I hope to finally see an end to what I have always seen as an outdated and unsafe restriction on trucks with the passing of AB172 when it goes to be voted upon! It will be nice to finally be able to move at a reasonable speed when in comparison to the other automobiles we share the California roadways with, much like when in other neighboring states, while trucking through The Golden State!