Illinois lawmakers reduce speed differential in Chicago area

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/3/2014

The speed differential between most cars and trucks on certain Chicago-area roadways will soon shrink.

Since Jan. 1, the speed limit on rural interstate highways in Cook and the “collar” counties surrounding Chicago has been 70 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks. Previously, car speeds were set at 65 mph.

The Illinois House voted 103-12 on Tuesday, Dec. 2, to overturn an August veto from Gov. Pat Quinn on a bill to permit trucks on affected roadways to drive 60 mph. The vote exceeded the three-fifths majority needed to override the governor’s veto.

The bill, SB930, now becomes law. Senate lawmakers gave unanimous consent last month to overriding the veto.

At the time of his veto, Quinn cited concerns about allowing large trucks to drive faster.

“Increased speeds on urban interstate highways for trucks will result in the increased loss of human life,” Quinn wrote in a veto message to lawmakers. He said speed also exacerbates the size and weight differences between large trucks and passenger vehicles, leading to more severe crashes.

Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, has said the interstates were designed for the higher rate of speed. Others say since car speeds were increased the first of the year, the state should follow suit to update truck speeds.

OOIDA leadership says it’s imperative for road safety that any changes made to driving speeds promote uniformity.

The Association’s Executive Vice President Todd Spencer has said that requiring trucks to drive at speeds slower than other vehicles does not promote safety, but does just the opposite by requiring vehicles to be constantly in conflict with each other. 

State lawmakers also voted to override a separate veto on a bill to alter speeds for all vehicles on Illinois tollways.

SB2015 will raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on the 286-mile network of tollways.

The governor previously said “the convenience of increased speeds for drivers on Illinois tollways does not outweigh the safety risks.”

House lawmakers voted 100-11 on Wednesday to overturn the veto. The Senate already voted 44-5 in favor of the override.

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