Two bills target engine brakes in Illinois; hearings set for Tuesday

| 2/28/2005

Illinois lawmakers are pushing two separate proposals that would allow restrictions on the use of engine brakes in the state.

The two bills – SB534 in the Senate and HB2497 in the House – would permit counties to post signs that prohibit the use of engine brakes that make “excessive noise.”

Both bills would allow truckers to use an engine brake if it is properly muffled so that it does not exceed noise limits, and both would allow use of an engine brake in an emergency situation, which the bills define as needing to brake to “avoid a collision with a person or another vehicle.”

State Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, sponsored the Senate version, while Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Freeport, introduced the House version.

The Department of Transportation would set up the rules for how and where the signs could be set up. However, the wording is set in the bills. The signs would be required to say: “Excessive engine braking noise prohibited.” Both bills would charge a $75 fine against truckers who commit engine brake violations.

However, the bill does not define what would constitute “excessive noise.”

A hearing is scheduled on both of the bills Tuesday, March 1.

The House Transportation and Motor Vehicles Committee will hear testimony regarding HB2497 at 2 p.m. March 1. The Senate Transportation Committee will meet to hear testimony on SB534 at 2:30 p.m. the same day. Both hearings will take place in the Illinois Capitol building in Springfield.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said that if the state had concerns about noise, officials should write a law that addresses that and doesn’t unnecessarily impede use of a required safety device.

“To simply focus on an engine brake makes no sense whatsoever; that’s not the issue,” he said.

“If this is an issue for the Legislature, then they need to focus on what the real issue is, and that’s how much a noise a truck makes. If it makes too much noise, whether it’s stopping or starting, it could be the subject of enforcement. Whether or not the truck is equipped with an engine brake is irrelevant to the noise issue.”

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor