Illinois' governor has vetoed a bill that would reduce speed differentials between cars and trucks in rural areas near Chicago from 15 mph back down to the previous 10 mph difference.
SB 930 was unanimously approved by the Illinois Senate (58-0) and by the Illinois House (114-0). It would have raised the minimum speed limit for trucks in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties from 55 to 60 mph.
The bill was initiated by the Illinois Trucking Association after the Illinois Department of Transportation turned down the association's request to reduce car speed limits in order to restore a 10-mph difference between cars and trucks in those areas.
Before 2014, rural areas in the counties near Chicago had a car speed limit of 65 mph and a truck speed limit of 55 mph. On January 1, when Public Act 98-0511 took effect, the state DOT created several areas near Chicago where the truck speed limit is capped at 55 mph but the car speed limit was raised to 70 mph – a 15-mph difference.
“We prefer uniform speed limits, and the Illinois Trucking Association did not support raising the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph in Public Act 98-0511," said Matt Hart, Executive Director of the Illinois Trucking Association, in a statement. "At the very least, we were hopeful that Governor Quinn’s administration would keep automobile speed limits near Chicago at no more than 10 mph above the truck speed limit of 55 mph."
In vetoing the bill, Gov. Pat Quinn said in a letter to the General Assembly, "Increased speeds on urban interstate highways for trucks will result in the increased loss of human life. Research has shown a correlation between increased speed limits and increased highway deaths. Higher travel speeds lengthen stopping distances, making it more difficult to react to an emergency in time. Speed also exacerbates the size and weight differences between large trucks and passenger vehicles, leading to more severe crashes."
Over the past four years, he said, the state has lost more than 149 lives from fatal speed-related crashes involving tractors, both with and without semi-trailers.
The governor also pointed to some highly publicized recent accidents where trucks severely injured or killed state troopers who were on the side of the highway, as well as the July crash where a driver who allegedly was in violation of hours of service regulations crashed into vehicles in a construction zone on I-55, killing five.
Pointing out that the state House and Senate passed this legislation unanimously, Hart said, "We believe that lawmakers saw the legislation as a reasonable request to restore a 10-mph difference between cars and trucks in rural areas near Chicago. We sincerely hope that the legislature will support their previous vote during the veto session later this year.”
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