California bill to eliminate split speeds gains OOIDA support

March-April 2020

Keith Goble


If one California state lawmaker gets his way, the state would do away with speed limit differentials.

Currently, smaller vehicles traveling in the state are allowed to drive 65 mph – 70 mph in certain locations – while large vehicles are limited to 55 mph.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Fairfield, has introduced a bill to authorize tractor-trailers and buses to travel at the same posted speeds as motorists.

A similar bill was introduced one year ago to raise truck speed limits to 65 mph in rural areas. The bill did not get out of committee.

Frazier’s bill, AB1999, could come up for consideration in a committee as early as Feb. 27.

OOIDA supports uniformity

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the effort to repeal speed differentials in California. The Association does not advocate for a specific speed limit.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s manager of government affairs, says that truckers are firsthand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws, including differential speed limits.

In communication with the bill sponsor, Matousek highlighted recent U.S. Senate testimony by OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh.

“The underlying theme of his testimony was that there are hundreds of laws and regulations that have nothing to do with highway safety because trucking policy is oftentimes overly influenced by people who know virtually nothing about trucking,” Matousek stated.

He adds that split speed limits are counterproductive to safety.

“Research shows that a higher variance of speed increases the risk of an accident, which is why most states have eliminated split speed limits.”

In addition, Matousek said that California’s split speed limits are arguably the most dangerous because of the 15 mph differential. Only four states – Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Washington – have differentials up to 10 mph.

He said that speed differentials are a contributing factor to increased congestion, carbon emissions, and increased inefficiencies with local, regional, and national goods movement.

“Not only would repealing California’s split speed limit law increase highway safety, it would improve productivity and efficiency.” LL


Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.