A new law beginning Jan. 1 will allow Illinois semis to travel 65 mph on many state highways, leaving opponents of higher speeds concerned about the increased risk of Illinois trucking accidents.
The faster trucks comes as the federal government is phasing in better braking standards for semis amid consideration of a reduction in rest requirements for truck drivers. Trucks are heavily regulated because of the danger posed to much smaller passenger vehicles in an accident.
The Illinois Department of Transportation reported that 14,362 Illinois semi accidents killed 115 people last year and injured about 3,000. Of the 115 killed, five were truck drivers and the rest were victims in passenger vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists.
Last year, some 380,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents that killed 4,229 motorists. Another 90,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
ABC7 reported that the law will affect about 1,800 miles of road in the state. Lawmakers have passed the speed limit increase on three previous occasions but those efforts were vetoed by Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Abels & Annes blogged about the new law this summer on Chicago Car Accident Lawyers blog. The law will not impact highways in the immediate Chicago area. Supporters of the measure argue it is safer for trucks to be traveling with the flow of traffic at the same speed as everyone else; opponents contend faster-moving rigs could increase the risk of Illinois semi accidents.
The issue has made news as far away as Evansville, where NBC14 reported the Illinois Department of Transportation is in the process of replacing signs at a cost of about $75,000 to display the new speed limit, which will also apply to campers and those hauling trailers.
This summer, Ohio changed its law to 65, Cleveland.com reported. Previously, large commercial vehicles had been restricted to 55mph in that state as well.
Nine states -- Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Texas, and Washington -- still retain lower speed limits for large trucks, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Texas and Utah allow semis to travel as fast as 80 mph.
Meanwhile, the federal government is looking at a measure that would reduce by an hour the amount of rest truckers are required to have between shifts-- from the current 11 hours to 10 hours.
And in July, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued new braking requirements, which the federal government estimates will save more than 200 lives a year and reduce property damage by more than $169 million a year.
The new standard requires that a tractor-trailer traveling at 60 miles per hour come to a complete stop in 250 feet. The old standard required a complete stop within 355 feet.
The new regulation will be phased in over four years beginning with 2012 models.