Illinois bill would bump rural interstate speeds to 70 mph

| 3/8/2010

Only months removed from boosting speeds for large trucks, Illinois state lawmakers are looking at letting all drivers on many interstates go a little faster. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association would prefer that lawmakers first focus on eliminating speed limit differentials on remaining interstates not affected by the 2009 law.

The Senate Executive Committee has voted 7-5 to advance a bill to the full Senate that would raise the speed limit to 70 mph on rural interstate highways. Cook and the “collar” counties surrounding Chicago would be exempt from the rule change sought in SB3668.

The current 65 mph limit on rural stretches of interstate was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn last summer. It took effect Jan. 1. Up until then, large trucks were limited to 55 mph.

Sen. Dale Risinger, R-Peoria, the bill’s sponsor, would like to see Illinois follow in the footsteps of states, including Iowa and Missouri, where 70 mph speeds for all vehicles are already allowed. In all, about 30 states permit all vehicles to travel 70 mph.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said lawmakers should first revisit areas in the state where there are speed differentials before setting out to further boost the 65 mph limit for all vehicles.

Truck driver and OOIDA Life Member Stu Hochfelder of Bourbonnais, IL, agrees. He said he would much rather see the state take another look at certain stretches of interstate further away from Chicago where the 10-mph differential still exists.

“Once you get past the northwestern suburbs, traffic thins out really quickly. I’d like to see it bumped up to 65 there,” Hochfelder told Land Line.

OOIDA fought for years for passage of uniform speeds in Illinois. With the help of the Mid-West Truckers Association, the 2009 law eliminated split speeds on rural interstates. But interstates around Chicago continue to keep trucks at 55 mph.

Research collected by OOIDA concludes that the difference in vehicle speeds, not excessive speed, contributes to wrecks. Collisions occur when trucks and cars must change lanes and pass more frequently.

The states with statewide split speed limits are Arkansas and Indiana where there is a 5-mph differential between cars and trucks; Texas with a difference of at least 5 mph during the day; Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Washington with 10-mph differences; and California with a whopping 15-mph difference between cars and trucks.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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