Illinois engine brake bills continue runaway path to passage

| 4/27/2005

Two bills that would restrict usage of engine brakes continue their rapid flight through the Illinois General Assembly.

Both bills – SB534 and HB2497 – have each passed out of one chamber and are now before the other. Both have racked up impressive majorities in passing. SB534 was approved by the Senate 54-1; HB2497 passed the House 113-0.

The two bills would permit counties or cities to post signs that prohibit the use of an engine brake that makes “excessive noise,” but does not define what constitutes 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 brake use 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.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said that if the state has concerns about noise, it 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 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