Chicago-area speed differential reduced starting Jan. 1

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, December 29, 2014

The speed differential between most cars and trucks on certain Chicago-area roadways will shrink starting New Year’s Day.

Since Jan. 1, 2014, 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.

Illinois state lawmakers acted earlier this month to overturn an August veto from Gov. Pat Quinn for 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.

As a result, the change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

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. 

Another rule change in effect the first of the year alters speeds for all vehicles on Illinois tollways. Speed limits will increase from 65 to 70 mph on the 286-mile network.

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