Pedal to the Metal, Good Buddy

Se. Doug LaMalfa

Big Rigs and cars with trailers would be able to thunder along a 120-mile stretch of Interstate 5 at 65 mph instead of the current 55 mph under a bill approved May 27 by the state Senate.

The measure, SB 333 by Sen. Doug LaMalfa, a Butte Republican, is aimed at reducing truck congestion from Woodland, 20 miles north of Sacramento, to Cottonwood, some 15 miles south of Redding.

LaMalfa said the bill is in response to complaints from  car drivers of the two-lane highway — who are allowed to travel at 70 mph — that trucks passing other trucks or merging into the left lane, cause traffic behind them to slow to 55 mph.

Allowing trucks to travel faster will ease the congestion, LaMalfa believes.

The measure sunsets in 2016 to allow Caltrans and the Highway Patrol to determine if traffic flow improves from the higher allowed speed.

The Senate Transportation & Housing Committee analysis of the bill notes that the faster a truck travels, the longer it takes to stop.

A loaded 80,000-pound tractor-trailer takes 323 feet to stop traveling at 55 mph, according to the highway patrol.

The distance climbs to 372 feeet at 60 mph and 425 feet at 65 mph.

Unsafe speed in the four counties affected by LaMalfa’s bill  – Yolo, Colusa, Glenn and Tehama – – was one of the chief causes of collisions from 2005 to 2009, the CHP says.

Trucks were at fault 43 percent of the time but represented less than 25 percent of traffic on the stretch of I-5 the bill deals with.

LaMalfa was questioned as to whether the higher speeds might lead to more animals being killed.

“Critters happen,” he said.

The measure was sent to the Assembly by the 40-member Senate on a 27 to 8 vote.



1 Comment »

  1. Driving around trucks, especially on I-5, isn’t terribly dangerous. After all, you are all going in the same direction. Unless, of course, you aren’t paying attention, or are texting, phoning, talking, discussing the state of the State’s Budget, or are otherwise distracted. That is dangerous, really dangerous. So is having a driver doing some of the above while the truck is obeying the speed limit. Speed differential–that is, some traveling much faster than others–is what often leads to unfortunate conflicts. As in dead people! Many states allow truck traffic to travel at higher speeds–reducing the speed differential–so this is actually a good thing. Now if we could only get folk off their phones and texts, and remember those stopping distances, and respect the size differential between the Prius and the Peterbuilt, more folk would not encounter severe conflict between their car and the truck. and would live.

    Comment by lotuslover — 5.27.2011 @ 10:03 pm

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