For the third time in recent years, legislation offered in
Illinois calls for bringing an end to split speed limits on the state's
Rep. Robert Flider, D-Decatur, and Sen. John Sullivan,
D-Rushville, have taken up the battle to eliminate the provision that set up
slower speed limits on rural interstates for vehicles weighing more than 8,000
Currently, those vehicles are required to travel 10 mph
below the 65 mph speed limit for other vehicles. If approved, the new rule
would clear all vehicles to drive 65 mph.
Flider's bill - HB1786 - and Sullivan's bill - SB540 - would
allow the Illinois Department of Transportation to increase large truck speeds
to as much as 65 mph.
Flider made it clear that even if the bill is signed into
law it doesn't guarantee elimination of the speed gap.
"The bill allows the state to consider authorizing uniform
speeds. It wouldn't mandate a change, but just to consider it," Flider told Land Line.
The bills have advanced through committees to their
respective chamber's floor for further consideration. Despite widespread
support to this point in the legislative session, the forecast for the legislation
Attempts in 2003 and 2004 to get uniform speed legislation
enacted were met with vetoes by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In both instances the
House and Senate initially approved the legislation by veto-proof margins.
In 2003, the House had first crack at an override attempt
only to fall two votes shy of the margin needed to hand the bill off to the
Senate for further consideration. A year later, enough Senators stayed together
to pull off an override but several lawmakers in the House switched their votes
in support of the governor's position.
Blagojevich said at the time he fears that faster trucks
would mean bloodier accidents because the force of impact is stronger the
faster a vehicle is traveling, The
Associated Press reported.
OOIDA and other trucking industry officials have fought for
the bill's passage for years. They cite federal statistics showing that split
speed limits actually lead to more accidents.
Flider cited those concerns as reasoning for introducing the
"Studies have shown that uniform speed limits are safer in
many instances. There are occurrences of a car driver coming upon a truck and
suddenly realizing that truck is driving a lot slower. That can create some
challenges on a busy highway, Flider said. "It seems to me, and I think studies
have concluded, uniform speed limits actually would be safer as long as
everybody follows the speed limit."
The biggest obstacle to passage again could be getting it
past the governor.
"We're not sure what the mood in the governor's office will
be," Flider said.
At press time, the governor's office hadn't returned Land Line's call seeking a comment on
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor