Illinois Considers Raising Highway Speed Limit for Commercial Trucks

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is considering whether to increase the speed limit for semi trucks from 55 mph to 65 mph, the Bloomington Pantagraph reported May 18. Both houses of the Illinois Legislature passed the measure, but the governor can still veto it. If he does not, big rigs and tractor-trailers would be allowed to legally travel at the same speed as passenger cars in Illinois.
This is actually the fourth try by the Legislature to raise trucking speed limits. Three similar bills have already passed, but disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed each one. The current governor did not comment to the Pantagraph, but opponents of the measure argue that trucks already violate the speed limit, and a raised speed limit would just lead to even higher speeds and possibly more trucking accidents in Illinois. Supporters, by contrast, say trucks are safer when they move at the same speed as cars. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Illinois is one of 12 states that set lower speed limits for trucks, not including Missouri.
As a Southern Illinois trucking lawyer, I am very interested in trucking safety issues, so I was curious about which side’s safety arguments were more accurate. A bit of research suggests that speeding is not a major safety issue for large commercial tractor-trailers, at least as compared to private drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2007, truck drivers were the least likely to speed (or drive drunk). However, the agency also reported that truck drivers in fatal crashes were more likely to have a previous speeding conviction than car drivers (24% to 19%), suggesting that enforcement of speed limits might be better for truckers.
In any case, while drivers are more than justified in being afraid of speeding semi trucks, speed is not the main safety issue with big rigs. The trouble is the trucks’ much greater size and weight. Even a relatively slow-speed crash between a car and a truck can cause catastrophic injuries to the people inside the car. Here in Missouri, where we have no difference in speed limits applied to passenger vehicles and trucks, our number of trucking accidents is basically even with that of Illinois — we had 3% of America’s trucking accidents in 2007, while Illinois had 3.2%. As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney who would like to see fewer crashes in every state, I don’t believe Illinois will see much of a change if Quinn does sign the bill.
Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients in Missouri and southern Illinois who were seriously injured in a serious accident with a large truck. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in an accident you believe was caused by a trucker’s or trucking company’s carelessness, we can help. In a Missouri semi truck accident lawsuit, you can claim all of your losses related to the accident, including financial losses like hospital bills and lost income, as well as compensation for an injury, pain, disability or wrongful death. To set up a free consultation and learn more about your rights, please contact our firm online or call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.