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We must pull together to end split speeds

Woody Chambers
General vice president, OOIDA

Once again, for the fourth year since I have been lobbying the Illinois General Assembly, legislation has been introduced to eliminate the split speed limit. Last year it was HB1186 sponsored by Rep. Dan Reitz, D-Sparta, and this year SB2374 sponsored by Sen. George Shadid, D-Pekin. We congratulate both of these legislators for their clear thinking and common sense in regard to the safe and efficient movement of all traffic in and through the state of Illinois.

Last year, HB1186 passed both houses with apparently veto-proof majorities. However, Gov. Rod Blagojevich — no friend of trucking in Illinois or anyone running an IRP plate, including Illinois — did indeed veto the bill. The House attempt to overturn his veto failed by two votes.

For our more than 3,200 OOIDA members residing, and I hope voting, in Illinois, here are the names of your representatives blowing in the political wind and changing their votes from yes on HB1186 to no on the override attempt: Reps. Patricia Bailey, D-Chicago; Mark Beaubien Jr., R-Wauconda; Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago; Monique Davis, D-Chicago; Steve Davis, D-East Alton; Mary Flowers, D-Chicago; Jack Franks, D-Woodstock; Charles Jefferson, D-Rockford; Lou Lang, D-Skokie; Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, Jack McGuire, D-Joliet; Larry McKeon, D-Chicago; Robert Molaro, D-Chicago; Robert Rita, D-Crestwood; Kathleen Ryg, D-Vernon Hills; George Scully Jr., D-Chicago Heights; and Eddie Washington, D-Waukegan.

Even more disappointing, in my opinion, are those representatives without the guts to vote their convictions one way or the other for fear of losing the support of constituents on either side of the issue. The following either abstained or didn’t show up for the override attempt: Reps. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago; Ralph Capparelli, D-Chicago; Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora; Annazette Collins, D-Chicago (excused absence); Calvin Giles, D-Chicago; Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville; Randall Hultgren, R-Wheaton (excused absence); Sidney Mathias, R-Arlington Heights; Charles Morrow III, D-Chicago; John Philip Novak, D-Kankakee; and Angelo Saviano, R-River Grove.

Last, but certainly not least, the speaker of the House, Rep. Madigan, D-Chicago, voted no. This is really no surprise since Mr. Madigan and his Chicago Democrats have always opposed uniform speed limits in Illinois even though urban areas, including Chicago, are unaffected by any change on rural interstates. It would be my guess that these urban legislators — who include most of the no votes or abstainers on the veto override — and Gov. Blagojevich himself believe the promotion of “Big Truck Hysteria” is a vote getter.

If any of you Illinois members are represented by the lawmakers listed above, I encourage you to call or write them voicing your displeasure with their no vote or failure to vote to override the veto on last year’s HB1186. Encourage them to support this year’s version. As of press time SB2374 had already passed the Senate and had been forwarded to the House for consideration. In fact, every Illinois voter should contact his or her representatives and encourage them to support SB2374. For contact information, call OOIDA’s Membership Department at 1-800-444-5791.

Unfortunately, “Big Truck Hysteria” is being promoted every day by some members of our own trucking community. For you chowder heads out there who are unhappy with uniform speed limits and would like to see a return to split speeds, here is the program. Continue to run 5, 10 or 15 miles per hour over the limit no matter what it is, tailgate petrified four-wheelers in the hammer lane, weave from lane to lane and pass on the right if it is the quickest way to get around. I myself am sometimes petrified by the driving habits of more than a few steering wheel holders I see out here on a daily basis. When the motoring public is involved, a call to their legislators is almost a sure thing. Keep it up, and we can have split speeds, lane restrictions and even “truck-only” toll roads.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in the safe, uniform and efficient movement of traffic, simply drive the designated truck speed in split states. I alone have backed up traffic for miles between Chicago and St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit, Las Vegas and LA to name a few, just by driving the split speed limit for trucks. If more of you would do this, the same motoring public in split states would deluge their legislators with calls to fix the problem. For that matter, the legislators themselves would be the first to support uniform speed limits.

Can you imagine those Chicago Democrats driving to Springfield at 50 or 55 miles per hour rather than their usual 80 or 85? Changes would be made.