Illinois approves truck rules, uniform speeds on more roadways

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/29/2011

Truckers traveling through Illinois soon will be able to drive the same speed as other vehicles on more roadways throughout the state. Other new truck rules also are approved.

At the encouragement of truckers, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law on Wednesday, July 27, a bill that takes the next step toward uniform speeds on roadways in the state. OOIDA leadership says Illinois truckers should be congratulated for their years of hard work pushing lawmakers to rid the state of speed limit differentials.

In 2009, Quinn signed into law a bill to authorize trucks to travel 65 mph on rural, interstate highways – the same speed as smaller vehicles.

Previously SB1913, the new law expands the 65 mph speed limit for cars and trucks to include certain four-lane, divided highways. The change affects U.S. and state highways outside of Chicago and the five surrounding “collar” counties.

Truckers will be able to drive the same speed as cars on affected roadways starting Jan. 1, 2012.

Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, sponsor of the 2009 law, said he brought the issue back to the statehouse this year to make the change more far-reaching.

“After I passed that initial legislation, I went home to my district. I realized there is a divided highway that runs through the heart of my district that wasn’t included in the legislation,” Sullivan previously told Land Line. The finding spurred Sullivan to come back to the statehouse and continue his work on uniform speeds.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer says the 2009 law was a major step toward improving safety on Illinois roadways. The new law moves the state closer to the goal of uniform speeds on all roadways in the state.

“There is no scenario where a policy to set different speed limits would make any safety sense,” Spencer said.

Also signed into law by Quinn is a new rule intended to clarify and standardize enforcement language for truck weight and size, as well as reduce emissions.

Among the provisions in SB1644 is increasing the maximum weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle-reduction technology. Commercial vehicles equipped with auxiliary power units will be authorized in state law to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Until now, Illinois has been one of 16 states where the weight allowance is granted by enforcement policy rather than by state law.

The new law also standardizes gross weight regulations. When the gross weight of a vehicle with a registered gross weight of up to 77,000 pounds exceeds certain weight limits by as much as 2,000 pounds, the owner or operator must remove the excess weight.

In addition, the law clarifies that clearance lamps are required only on commercial vehicles – not on personal vehicles.

The rule changes take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

Another new law allows a form of dual semi-trailer hitch using a single pivot point. The changes in HB2836 took effect immediately.

Quinn said at the bill-signing ceremony in Quincy, IL, on Wednesday that all three bills are important because they simplify trucking rules in Illinois.

“We want to make sure we have simple, straightforward laws that can be complied with and can be enforced in a proper way,” Quinn said. He added that the changes will help create uniform rules for trucks, as well as help reduce emissions.

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

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