The incident was reported west of Grant Line Road at 8:11 a.m.
The 33-year-old man was driving west on the highway when the metal pipe flew through the windshield of his 2003 white Volvo XC70 and impaled him, CHP Officer Tyler Hahn said.
The Volvo veered left into the center divider, went up an embankment and came to rest. The CHP arrived to find the driver deceased inside the vehicle and the engine still running, Hahn said.
Hahn described the pipe as about 2 feet in length and 2 inches in diameter. He said it is not clear where it came from.
"No witnesses saw it bouncing down the road, nobody's called in to say that they lost anything of this sort," he said.
Hahn said it appears to be a type of pipe used to help secure loads on large trucks.
The victim's name has not been released but Hahn said he may be from the Rocklin area near Sacramento.
Hahn called the case "completely a freak accident" and said it "literally is being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
No one else was in the Volvo at the time, and no other injuries were reported. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the CHP at 828-0466 and ask for either Hahn or Officer Azevedo.