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.
A measure that passed unanimously in the Illinois House and Senate was vetoed by Governor Quinn this week. The law would have raised the speed limit for trucks traveling on interstates in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties from 55 miles per hour to 60. The law was positioned as a return to the same speed differential that existed prior to the State raising interstate speed limits for cars on these roads to 70 from 65. Governor Quinn defended the veto on the grounds that higher speed limits have been linked to an increase in fatal traffic accidents in numerous studies.
From 2009 to 2012, car accident fatalities dropped 1.74 percent according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The drop was typical of the past 15 years during which fatal crashes fell substantially. NHTSA data indicates that there were 42,013 motor vehicle deaths in 1997 compared to 33,561 in 2012. That decrease occurred despite a nearly 14 percent increase in the total miles driven during that time period.
Last week's tragic truck accident on Interstate 55 near Elwood has renewed concerns about log book practices and overworked drivers. The driver in that case is accused of falsifying his log book entry. His paper log book indicated he began working around 6-6:30 a.m. Investigators have uncovered evidence that he actually started work at around 2:30 a.m. If the allegation is true, it will likely increase the pressure on safety officials to accelerate the move to electronic record keeping.
Following a serious truck accident, victims and their families often must turn to the truck company's insurance provider to obtain proper compensation. The minimum insurance policy a truck company can hold under the law is $750,000. This level was set in 1985, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Due to rising medical costs and inflation, $750,000 may be inadequate to cover the victims of a catastrophic crash.
Commercial motor carriers in the United States are currently required to have a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. That minimum has not been raised in nearly 30 years. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if insurance regulation in the trucking industry had been adjusted for inflation, then the minimum would now be $1.62 million. If the regulation had taken into account increased medical costs, then the minimum would be $3.18 million.
Keeping hours-of-service records is a primary safety requirement for truck drivers and trucking companies. Truck drivers are required to log their hours and take rest breaks to avoid fatigue, which too often is a contributing factor in serious truck accidents.
A Chicago-area trucker is facing four felony charges for behavior leading up to a deadly wreck on I-88. The semi-truck accident occurred two weeks ago and claimed the life of a toll-way worker. It also left an Illinois State Trooper with critical injuries. As a result of his actions, the truck driver has been labeled an "imminent hazard to public safety" by the U.S. Department of Transportation. He has been ordered to stop operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
On Monday, a Metra train collided with a semi truck in Bartlett. The truck driver involved in the crash is now being charged by Metra police for two violations. The 41-year-old man is being cited for violating a highway-rail grade crossing and avoiding a traffic control device, according to a spokesperson for Metra. The crash caused substantial damage to the semi-trailer and the automobiles it was hauling. Fortunately, there were no fatalities associated with the wreck. The truck driver, who works for a Pennsylvania trucking company, has been issued a November 18 court date in Cook County Circuit Court.
Long, uninterrupted stretches of driving can challenge a person physically and mentally. Boredom and exhaustion set in and can increase the likelihood of a serious accident. These stretches are the working reality for many commercial truck drivers. Rules limiting the hours of service in which a truck driver can work do not ensure that the driver is well-rested or alert during a shift. A new study conducted on Long-haul truck drivers in Australia reveals that drivers who drink caffeinated beverages are less likely to have an accident than drivers who have not ingested caffeine.