Illinois governor Pat Quinn quietly signed legislation allowing tractor-trailers to drive at the same speeds as cars in most areas of the state, the Southtown (Ill.) Star reported Aug. 25. The bill, which takes effect next Jan. 1, makes Illinois the 41st U.S. state with a “uniform” speed limit — the same speed limit for all types of traffic. The uniform speed limit has been hotly debated in Illinois over the past several years, with both sides claiming their preferred arrangements would reduce the number of serious trucking accidents in Illinois. Disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich rejected similar bills three times.
Truckers backed the change, saying higher speed limits would reduce accidents by reducing the difference between their speeds and the speed of passenger car traffic around them. They believe a lower speed limit for trucks encourages drivers to pass them, leading to unsafe traffic moves that cause accidents — such as cutting off a truck that can’t stop quickly. However, highway safety advocates say increased speed limits for trucks will increase accidents because it takes longer for a heavy truck traveling at high speeds to stop. The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police both opposed the law, and the Automobile Club predicts that it will lead to an additional 115 traffic deaths per year. Earlier research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that only 3% of trucks in Illinois traveled faster than 70 mph under the dual speed limit, while that number was 9% in Iowa, which had a uniform 65 mph speed limit.
As the article notes, it already takes a long time for a big rig to come to a complete stop. To produce the same force as a rear-end accident involving a truck traveling 55 mph, a passenger car would have to rear-end the same vehicle at 246 mph. As any southern Illinois trucking accident attorney can tell you, those are deadly amounts of force. In semi truck accidents, that force can crush a smaller vehicle, causing deaths and very serious injuries for anyone in that vehicle. As a result, statistics show that the vast majority of deaths in trucking accidents (83% in 2007) are the deaths of people outside the truck — regardless of who actually caused the crash. As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney, I hope the Illinois legislature would be willing to reconsider if it becomes clear that fatalities are going up.
Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., the Lowe Law Firm represents people who were catastrophically injured or lost a loved one in a serious accident with a large commercial truck. Unfortunately, many families thrust into this situation through no fault of their own soon discover that they have serious financial problems as well as injuries to deal with. Medical bills for truck accident injuries can easily reach five or six figures, and victims must frequently take weeks or months away from work to recover — if they can return to work at all. Our Missouri big rig accident attorneys help these victims recover the money to pay these and other costs of the accident from the wrongdoers who caused it, which may include the trucking company as well as a careless truck driver
If you’re struggling personally and financially after a serious truck accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, the Lowe Law Firm would like to help. To learn more at a free consultation, please contact us through our Web site or call 1-877-678-3400, toll-free.