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Tips To Avoid Speeding Downhill

This article is not intended to educate seasoned drivers, especially commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who could probably write a book about how to avoid speeding downhill. We instead intend to inform novice drivers that are towing a trailer or recreational vehicle (RV) behind their vehicle through mountainous areas. Though new CDL holders may find these tips helpful as well.

Although this is a compilation of information from a variety of sources, the CA Commercial Driver’s Handbook was the most valuable reference. In fact, we believe there should be a rainbow attached to the handbook because it is a “pot of gold.”

Mountain Driving & Speeding Downhill

The highest point in the continental United States is right here in CA. Mount Whitney rises to 14,505 feet. The lowest point below sea-level is at Death Valley. Plus, there are 46 mountains that peak above three kilometers or 9,843 feet in CA. Therefore, knowing how to control speeding downhill is crucial to traveling throughout the state, particularly if you are hauling a trailer.

Another point to remember when pulling a trailer in CA is CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 22406, Speed Laws, that requires a maximum speed of 55 mph. Additionally, on many mountain passes the speed limit dips to 35 mph for those vehicles. This information may shock truckers and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers from Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona because the law is mostly restricted to CA.

Therefore, in CA it is much easier to get a ticket for speeding downhill while pulling an RV trailer or another vehicle. That’s right, when you drive through Cali with your mobile home on wheels, towing your Smart car, the speed limit is 55 mph statewide.

Due to gravitational pull, most notably when pulling a trailer, you must watch your speed on downgrades. Never exceed the posted speed limit, even by a few mph because many communities are hungry for revenue and CA fines are some of the highest in the country. To maintain a safe speed, consider:

● The vehicle’s weight and the weight of the trailer or cargo

● The grade and its length

● Weather

● Road conditions

Each of these factors affects the pull on your vehicle and the push from the trailer. Use your vehicle transmission’s lower gear to sustain a consistent velocity and use your brakes only when necessary to preserve them to stop.

Keep in mind that the road’s grade is not an adequate defense when cited for speeding downhill.

Stopping Distances

The distance it will take to stop a vehicle increases with the weight of the vehicle and trailer. Other factors include reaction time, speed, and weather conditions. Not to slight our senior readers, but many seniors are the ones with the time and means to travel in those big RVs with a car in tow. As we age, it is only natural that our eyesight, in most cases, is not as good, which will affect your reaction time.

Awareness of the danger ahead, reaction time, plus, the push of the trailing vehicle and speed equal the safe stopping distance. Once you spot the risk ahead, the brain must process the risk. The average reaction time is three quarters to one second; in which time your vehicle going 55 mph could go an additional 61 feet. Once again, this depends on the weight of the trailing vehicle and grade. Plus, in dry conditions, it could travel an added 216 feet. Therefore, ideally you might need nearly 300 feet or the length of a football field to stop. Going the speed limit may not be prudent in some weather conditions and could get you a ticket for driving “speed greater than is reasonable” considering weather and other conditions, CVC 22350.

Consult an Attorney from Central Valley

When you receive a ticket for speeding downhill on I-5, 395, SR 99 or any of the other highways in Kings, Kern, Fresno, Mono, Inyo, Tulare, or even some in SLO, LA, and Riverside counties, you may need a traffic attorney. Two of the best make up the traffic ticket defense team of Bigger & Harman. They are familiar with the day-to-day operations of traffic court in these counties because they regularly practice only traffic law there.

When they’re not in their office working on motions to dismiss and other legal necessities for clients, they’re in traffic court, where they listen to other traffic cases. Their knowing which defenses work for others can be beneficial to you.

Before you call any traffic attorney, consider their write up and their 4.7-star rating out of a possible 5. Nolo is a prestigious national online digest for legal professionals. You might also examine Yelp’s 85 comments from clients and those on their Facebook page.

Although you may come across a negative comment or two, the majority are positive because they have successfully defending nearly 2000 traffic tickets for clients. They know they can’t win every case or get a dismissal or reduced charge every time, but they do promise to give you their best.

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, for an appointment. Send a private message on Facebook, their website contact form, or email,

Se habla Español 661.349.9755.


The CA Commercial Driver Handbook

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