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.

Jon Stuebbe is retired after 20 years as a Kern County Superior Court judge. He was previously dean of California Pacific School of Law. The opinions expressed are his own.

(9) comments


Clearly this person does not understand Newton's Second Law of Motion. Stop reading his content, it'll infect your mind.


Everything with this guy is a modest proposal dressed in a portrait studio photo. Maybe if California didn’t have major population centers, speed limits might be relaxed. Who reviews and approves this guy’s stuff?


I never thought I would ever be quoting from a Adam Sandler movie in this forum..

Principal : Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


I have more trouble with trucks than anything else when traveling. They drift in my lane. I really have to watch them as I pass. I've had several close calls. It's a terrible feeling when one starts drifting on top of you and you've nowhere to go.


It seems to me that this is the point the judge was making. If all traffic is moving at the same speed there will be fewer needs to pass these trucks while worrying about them "drifting" into you.


Judge Stuebbe-with all respect. You sound like an elitist. Likely you fly first class and travel internationally. Your time on freeways—especially California. Is obviously limited. Perhaps you’re relying on memories past when truckers were folks of integrity and character. No more sir.

The fully 50% of truckers today are maniacs. Zero respect for fellow drivers. Physics tells us a massive vehicle requires tremendous distances to stop when hurtling at 55MPH not to mention the dangers of them rolling insanely at 70-80. Think about it. Judges rule based on what a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances. Nothing reasonable about giving a dangerous, UNreasonable careening free pass —remember, our families are riding side by side these destination-fixed truckers. The biggest reason for wrecks bithbon highwYs and skyways are “get-there-itas”. JFK Jr. Cut across the ocean to “get to a wedding on time”. Patsy Cline’s manager/pilot.. same thing. Buddy Holly.. Lenard Skynard... etc. Truckers get paid by loads delivered. Common for them to drive cross-country with time deadlines. Tiday’s trucker force now has majority minority drivers whose homelands are not known for driver safety—their culture is just not driver safety oriented. Mexico and India/Pakistan, Honduras. Try cruising those streets n “highways”.

Reasonable person standard is the rule. Not the perception of an elite who travels in another orbit.


I was trying to leave you alone because you are not all there. AGAIN, you are off your meds and/or suffering from one of several age debilitating conditions. Stuebbe is right about this one. You obviously have no clue about what happens on our Nations highways. Truck drivers are subject to strict testing in order to get and maintain their license to drive a big rig. Cali allows people who don’t understand most of the street signs to have a license. I trust a truck driver to be safer than someone who was given a license after 3 tries and they still don’t know the language and/or sign symbols. Hate me for telling the truth, if you will.


Truckers subjected to “strict testing” Lol. Yeah... everyone knows truckers are known for their intellectual capacity. That’s why they drive a truck for a living. Looong hours, cramped conditions, lovely sanitary facilities and cruddy pay. Um, yeah. Those tests must be dynamic. Lol. So silly. Now you profess to have intimate knowledge of USA highways n byways. Yeah, right. So a huge diesel truck going 75-80 is safe because they are in the flow of regular traffic. The time those monsters require to react to evolving road conditions and multiple quick-reaction instances encountered on highways Is not conducive to safety of fellow drivers. Drivers in Cali know where they’re going and can read signs and count money. Don’t fool yourselves. Lol. Calif. is now a majority minority state... “them” folks knew enough to take over your previous state. The most populous in the country. Just a matter of time “y’all”. Lol. Face it. It’s too late to stop it. So embrace it. Ha!!!!

Gene Pool Chlorinator

You know you make zero sense with everything you write, don't you? Veritas is correct- you're writing "style" indicates that of a frenzied orangutan trying to spin plates on the end of metal rods, while reciting Pi to the first 10 digits...

You're ignorant comment regarding truckers and their intellect and pay is laughable. I know a number of truckers that are making six figures annually and are quite bright- unlike you.

Come up with another handle- something along the lines of "Mrknownothingatall"... you can have that one- I won't charge for it...

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.