Senate Bill 2374, trucks would be able to drive 65 miles per
hour on more than 2,000 miles of Illinois highways, including 1,938
miles of interstate highways, 118 miles of four-lane divided roads
and 52 miles of other freeways.
"It's a matter of public safety,"
Gov. Blagojevich said. "Ten miles per hour can be the difference
between life and death for a person in a car. A truck traveling at
65 miles per hour will strike a car with an impact 40 percent
greater than one traveling at 55 miles per hour. Raising the speed
limit for trucks means more people will die on Illinois highways.
"The safety of families who travel on Illinois highways is more
important than any arguments advanced by the trucking industry.
That's why I'm urging the House to uphold my veto of SB 2374."
From the time the 65-55 speed limit was imposed in Illinois in
1988 through 2001, there was a 22 percent decrease in fatal crashes
involving tractor-trailers. Semi crashes declined, according to the
Illinois Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Study, despite
a 58 percent increase in the number of vehicle miles driven by large
trucks on rural interstate highways during the 12-year span.
Joining Gov. Blagojevich on his call to state legislators were
family members of Paulette Nelson, a recent victim of a crash
involving a tractor-trailer. On Sept. 11, as she was driving
southbound on Interstate 94, her Toyota was violently rear-ended by
a semi. Ms. Nelson, 57, a teacher for 30 years at Trinity High
School for Girls in River Forest, died from her injuries. Her
husband Barry, 61, was also injured in the accident.
Alan C. McMillan, National Safety Council president and chief
executive officer, stood with the governor Monday, saying: "As the
leader in providing solutions for reducing unintentional deaths and
disabling injuries, the National Safety Council fully supports the
governor's goal to ensure safety on Illinois highways by maintaining
the current speed limit for trucks. The research is clear: When
thousands of trucks increase their speed, collisions, serious
injuries and fatalities also increase substantially."
According to AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, when tractor-trailer trucks travel at speed rates of
55 mph or higher, it significantly increases the likelihood the
truck will either jackknife or roll over.
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Steve JN Bernth, president and chief operating officer of AAA
Chicago, applauded Gov. Blagojevich's efforts to ensure Illinois'
highways are as safe as possible. "We admonish the experts and
opinion leaders of the House of Representatives to do the same by
upholding his veto," Bernth said. "AAA Chicago feels strongly that
upholding the governor's veto of SB 2374 would in effect save
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4,980
people were killed in the United States in crashes involving large
trucks during 2001. Of these, 74 percent were people in cars or
other passenger vehicles.
The Illinois Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division
reported that in 2004, to date, there have been 97 fatal accidents
involving tractor-trailers, with a total of 113 deaths. The numbers
for 2003 were 125 fatal crashes, with 154 deaths. Illinois already
ranks eighth in the nation in the number of fatal crashes involving
large trucks, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
estimates that as many as 111 more people will die on the state's
highways if the speed limit for trucks is raised to 65 mph.
Missouri, Iowa and Kansas all allow tractor-trailer trucks to
travel at the same rate as passenger vehicles. From 1995 to 2001,
involvement of large trucks in fatal crashes increased by 27
percent. Indiana, Ohio and Michigan limit truck highway speeds at
levels below that of passenger vehicles. From 1995 to 2001
involvement of large trucks in fatal crashes decreased by 15
percent, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
and AAA statistics.
"As the state's chief advocate for safe highways, I have to
oppose SB 2374 because there is a mountain of evidence that suggests
raising the speed limit for trucks to 65 mph will make our roads
more dangerous and lead to increased fatalities," said Illinois
Department of Transportation Secretary Tim Martin. "Seat belts and
air bags will offer little protection to passengers in a car when an
80,000-pound semi slams into it."
Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent said: "It is the duty
of the Illinois State Police to safeguard the roadways of Illinois
for the motoring public. Therefore we fully support the governor in
his resolve against raising the speed limit for trucks."
[News release from the