When the Illinois House and Senate voted to raise the speed limit for semi trucks from 55 mph to 60 mph, Governor Quinn vetoed the measure. The law applied to interstate highways in Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Will counties that were not in urban areas. Governor Quinn claimed the measure would lead to more fatalities in exchange for greater convenience for truck drivers. That veto has now been overturned by both the House and Senate and will be the law in Illinois going forward.
The House override vote was 103-12. The House is also considering another override vote that would change the top speed limit for semi trucks from 65 mph to 70 mph on Illinois tollways. The Senate already voted to override that veto this November in a 44-5-1 vote.
Both sides of the debate have framed their position as one of safety. The veto sponsors, led by Senator Jim Oberweis, claim that the differential in speed between semi trucks and other vehicles was leading to more serious crashes. Increasing the limit for trucks potentially reduces that differential. Governor Quinn cited statistics showing that traffic on Illinois tollways was already exceeding posted speed limits and needed to be encouraged to slow down.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that raising speed limits leads to an increase in fatalities. The NHTSA has pursued national speed limits for big rigs in the past. Following the veto override, Illinois will become the latest testing ground for the impact of higher speed limits on traffic deaths.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Lawmakers overturn Quinn veto of higher speed limits for trucks,” by Ray Long, 2 December 2014