It’s amazing how stupid truck drivers become immediately upon crossing the border from other states into California. There must be something in the air.
Perhaps it’s the notorious air pollution in our state that makes them completely unable to drive safely beginning at the border and for as long as they are within our boundaries. But notice how safe they become upon leaving the state again.
It is a tremendous favor our Legislators are doing us to recognize this fact and protect us from these truckers' dangerous driving. The wisdom they display in protecting us from our fellow citizenry is a credit to all the fine work they do.
Having taken a long, cross country driving trip recently, it is apparent to me they are being ever so cautious. What I saw in other states must chill the soul and numb the spirit of our lawmakers.
I actually saw trucks on cross-country freeways traveling as the same speed as the cars around them rather than 10 to 25 mph less. I was appalled at the lack of a speed differential between autos and trucks. Why, the very thought of cars in the right lane being able to stay in that lane and not swinging out into the fast lane to get around the slower moving trucks is apparently very dangerous. I am sure changing lanes as we do now to avoid trucks is much safer.
But, somehow, it didn’t feel less safe. In fact, it was interesting to see. Open freeways in many other states exactly like the Central Valley’s Interstate 5 are permitted to travel at automobile speed limits of 75 or even 80 mph. And these trucks drive the same speed without any obvious problem.
In California, even where the automobile speed limit is 70 mph, the commercial truck speed limit is 55. Perhaps our Legislators, in their infinite desire to protect us from ourselves, have access to statistics that show the accident rate per truck mile is higher in those states. I doubt it. In fact, I would wager the speed differential makes our freeways less safe.
To be clear, the rural freeways where increasing the truck speed limit would be helpful are ones like Interstate 5 in the Central Valley and Interstates 8, 10 and 15 in the Mojave Desert. It should also be the case where highway speeds are 65 so that the speed differential is eliminated.
But then, our betters in Sacramento know more than the legislatures and highway planners of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, etc. We are clearly more evolved than they are, but apparently our citizens are much less able to deal with trucks traveling at the same speed as all the other traffic on rural freeways.
The upside of our present speed laws is the revenue we derive from those truckers when they exceed our speed limits. Never let it be said that we missed an opportunity to siphon off a little from the pockets of people using our highways.
Truck drivers' livelihoods can be taken from them by “points” from speeding tickets, so little games are played in traffic courts where speeding tickets are converted into innocuous tickets for “coasting” or other non-point infractions. But we still keep the money. This charade only undermines respect for our laws.
The downside of our present speed laws is that some studies show the state may be losing as much as $30 billion per year in direct economic activity and much more indirectly as a result of the slower speed limit for commercial vehicles.
Here is my Modest Proposal: California's Legislature should no longer assume that trucks get more dangerous upon crossing our border and allow them to drive at the same speed as other vehicles on our rural freeways and highways, just as they safely do in other states.