Illinois adds safety pamphlet to enforcement blitz on U.S. 41

| 7/19/2005

Truckers driving along U.S. 41 in Lake County, IL, are going to be getting more than a left-lane violation ticket or an engine brake warning – they’ll also take home a little extra reading material.

In connection with a statewide safety campaign along the highway, the state’s legislature has produced a pamphlet that, besides pointing out lane restrictions and noise ordinances, also includes common-knowledge reminders, State Sen. Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest, told Land Line

“When truckers go to the weigh stations, our state troopers are also disseminating a leaflet that basically talks about some of the basic, everyday requirements, such as wearing seat belts and slowing down at traffic lights,” Garrett said. “But it also reinforces the need to stay in the right-hand lane along 41, and also to avoid the Jake-Braking system.”

Garrett said the pamphlets help supplement truck-specific rules on U.S. 41, which runs through her district.

“Currently, we have message boards along 41 that say to truckers to stay in the right lane, and also to avoid Jake Brake systems, which obviously are very loud and obtrusive to many of the residents who live along 41,” Garrett said. “We also have kept our weigh stations open on a much more regular and frequent basis to make sure that trucks are not singled out, but that people in our area feel as comfortable as possible that we’re doing everything we can to encourage safety.”

U.S. 41 – a federal highway and designated truck route – has become one of the most heavily regulated and enforced truck routes in the state, if not the country. After the nearby Illinois Tollway raised its toll rates in January 2004, U.S. 41 picked up some strict new regulations at the same time it became even more traveled by commercial vehicles.

“Once those tolls were increased, we saw a two-fold, a 100 percent increase of trucks along Route 41,” Garrett said. “And immediately, as we saw the trucks increase, our office phones were ringing off the hook, people were coming in, we were getting e-mails. People were just worried – it doesn’t mean anything negative against truckers. It’s just that trucks are big, they have a lot of weight and power, and people who have their kids on school buses worry about what would happen if a truck hit a school bus or hit a small car.”

Garrett said the reason the new pamphlet was directed only at truckers was because of the suddenly higher ratio of large trucks in comparison with cars on the roadway.

“(U.S.) 41 is a unique roadway because it is an official truck route, and at the same time, intersects with residential communities,” she said. “We have a lot of both types of accidents, but when you see a 100 percent (increase) of trucks, and not a 100 percent of cars, you have to err on the side of making sure the truck safety program is in place.”

By Aaron Ladage, staff writer