Last month, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law new trucking legislation designed to “simplify” existing trucking rules and regulations. As the Governor himself stated, the bill was “all about jobs.” Unfortunately, it appears that concern, in some aspects, has overridden concerns about the safety of the citizens of Illinois.
There is no doubt that trucking is a major economic factor in Illinois. In fact, the Illinois Trucking Association estimates that about 330,000 people in Illinois are directly employed by the trucking industry. On top of those employed by the industry, the Association also estimates that about one out of every 15 jobs relies on trucking to deliver the goods needed to sustain the job.
Nor are the jobs in the trucking industry poverty-level positions. The average truck-driver in Illinois makes about $50,000 annually.
The bill was a collaborative effort by legislators, the trucking industry itself, and the Illinois State Police. But the testimony in support of the bill by our state policemen focused not on safety, but on the confusing state of the current laws, where truckers were left to contend with differing state and local rules in many areas.
The primary feature of the new trucking laws is enactment of a uniform weight standard for all trucks, on all roads across the state. Under this new law, trucks may weigh in at up to 80,000 pounds (the current federal standard), regardless of truck type and road type. This weight does not include any auxiliary power unit (used on some trucks to keep the truck running while parked, to avoid the constant use of the diesel engine during these times).
Other aspects of the new laws include a uniform 65-mile-per-hour speed limit on four-lane highways outside of the greater Chicago area, and changes to the types of hitches allowed.
The Chicago injury attorneys of Passen & Powell are always pleased to see conflicting laws and standards clarified. But in this case, we cannot help but wonder whether this clarification is in the best interests of the citizens of our state.
The net impact of the weight-limit “simplification” is to allow heavier trucks on roadways where they could not previously travel. Allowing heavier trucks on our roadways increases the risk of accidents, and the severity of those accidents when they do occur. Likewise, the speed-limit “simplification” has a similar effect: to allow trucks to travel at faster speeds on New Trucking Rules in Illinois where this was not previously permitted.
While we are sure that the trucking industry is pleased with these “simplifications,” we are concerned with the unintended consequences.
To speak with an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500 or fill out a free case evaluation on our website.