Monday, August 4, 2008

A constant irritant

Illinois and its long-running split speed limit are constant irritants for truckers.

Of course, the Land of Lincoln doesn’t stop with that. They apparently have found ways to rub it in.

A trucker called us recently about billboards he had seen in Illinois that said something to the effect of “Truckers, here’s your sign,” followed by a picture of a 55 mph speed limit sign.

Needless to say, that trucker was more than a little irritated by the implied message – that truckers somehow didn’t see the thousand or so speed limit signs already out there? Do they really think truck drivers are that stupid? Or blind?

They must, or why would they spend the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to keep a billboard up?

The state’s government seems to have a long-standing problem with truckers, which is sad, considering the portion of their economy that’s dependent on trucks. The split speed limit is just part of it, but it’s an awfully big part.

Because split speed limits are unsafe, OOIDA has put a massive amount of effort over the years into overturning that law. In fact, the association has done far more than any other group out there to oppose split speed limits, especially in Illinois.

Due to the Association’s efforts, the Illinois General Assembly has voted at least three times I know of to end lower speed limits for trucks. And several of those votes were veto-proof majorities.

Then, each time, the governor vetoed the bill, and a bunch of lawmakers from the Chicago area – which isn’t affected one way or the other by this – changed their votes.

Some of those lawmakers who I spoke to seemed unaware of the problem split speed limits posed. Some simply listened to what the AAA Chicago Motor Club – a supporter of splits – said, but never checked it out to see if those statements were factual. One lawmaker didn’t even seem to know the split speeds didn’t affect her hometown, which sits well inside the metro area.

Shockingly, one lawmaker – a member of the state’s Senate Transportation Committee – didn’t know the difference between an Interstate highway and a U.S. highway with traffic lights.

Informing people like you about that history is one of the most important things OOIDA does – so that the next time the governor or the lawmakers who changed their votes are up for election, truckers who live in Illinois can make their voices heard in the most effective way possible.