Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


December 23, 2009

65 mph

While truckers hail an increase in the semitrailer speed limit on rural Illinois interstates, others aren’t so sure about the measure passed earlier this year by the Illinois General Assembly.

House Bill 3956 amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to raise the speed limit for trucks carrying 8,001 pounds or more from 55 to 65 mph in all counties outside the Chicago metropolitan area.

The bill passed the Illinois House 77-35 on March 26. After the Senate passed the bill 40-8 on May 18, Gov. Pat Quinn signed it into law Aug. 14. The new speed limit goes into effect Jan. 1.

State Rep. David Reis, R-Ste. Marie, who represents much of trucker-heavy Effingham County, said he’s been trying to get the bill passed since his initial election in 2004.

While both houses of the General Assembly have passed the bill three times in the last five years, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed it all three times.

“He (Blagojevich) always said it was a safety issue, but states that have it (the higher speed limit for trucks) have fewer accidents,” Reis said.

Reis said the lower truck speed limit unnecessarily slows down interstate traffic. Moreover, he said, a trucker cannot make the round trip between Chicago and St. Louis under the current speed limit without having to take a break because of federal trucking regulations that govern the time a trucker can spend on the road at one time.

“This is a bill whose time has come,” Reis said. “The lower speed limit slows down the interstate.

“You get this surge in traffic that just isn’t safe.”

While most of the bill’s legislative opponents are from the Chicago metropolitan area, Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, draws on his experience as the former McLean County Coroner to outline his opposition.

“I’ve never seen an accident in which greater speed would have minimized the chance of major injury or fatality,” Brady said. “I can’t get some of those graphic scenes out of my mind.

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