Illinois Senate approves uniform speed, truck length bills

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, April 25, 2011

An effort to authorize uniform speeds on more Illinois roadways is one step closer to reality. Other trucking issues being considered at the statehouse include truck weights, and truck lengths.

The Senate voted to unanimously approve a bill that would expand the 65 mph speed limit for cars and trucks to include four-lane, divided highways outside of Chicago. Sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, the bill – SB1913 – is scheduled for additional consideration Wednesday, April 27, in the House Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee.

Sullivan was the sponsor of a bill signed into law in 2009 that authorized trucks to travel the same speed as smaller vehicles on rural, interstate highways. This year’s version would include U.S. and state highways outside of Chicago and the five surrounding “collar” counties.

OOIDA officials say the 2009 law was a major step toward improving safety on Illinois roadways. However, more work needs to be done on the issue.

The Association issued a Call to Action on Monday, April 25, encouraging Illinois truckers to contact committee members about the bill.

Sullivan said he brought the issue back to the statehouse to make the change more far-reaching.

“After I passed that initial legislation I went home to my district and I realized there is a divided highway that runs through the heart of my district that wasn’t included in the legislation,” Sullivan told Land Line. “That’s when I decided we need to come back and work on this some more.”

Truck driver and OOIDA Member Buzz Sweeden of Manville, IL, welcomes the push for uniform speeds on more Illinois roadways. Since the 2009 law took effect, he said the benefit to safety has been noticeable.

“It has definitely improved travel. It eliminates so much road rage because vehicles don’t get trapped behind a truck going 55. Everything flows so much better with everyone able to travel at the same speed,” Sweeden said.

The Senate approved a separate bill by unanimous consent to remove length limits for the distance between the kingpin and the center of the rear axle of semitrailers longer than 48 feet.

The limit is 45 feet, six inches on Class I and Class II highways. On Class III and other state highways, the limit is 42 feet, six inches.

Sullivan said he believes Illinois is the only state that still limits the kingpin-rear axle length. For him, the biggest problem with the rule is how it affects double deck livestock trailers.

“Those trucks are running all over Illinois, and every other state, but technically they are not legal in this state,” Sullivan said. “What we have done is simply remove that distance limitation.”

The bill – SB2056 – is awaiting consideration in the House.

Spencer said the current restrictions serve no purpose because equipment has improved through the years.

A bill awaiting a Senate floor vote would put in place certification requirements for municipalities to use portable scales to cite truckers for weight restrictions. Another provision in the nearly 70-page bill, SB1644, would increase the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Commercial vehicles equipped with APUs would be authorized in state law to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Illinois is one of 18 states where the weight allowance is granted by enforcement policy rather than by state law.

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

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