The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Illinois Governor Quinn used his veto powers to overrule a bill that would raise the speed limits for semitrailer trucks from 55 mph to 60 mph on interstates in Chicago and the surrounding area. The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Jim Oberweis, passed the House 114-0 and the Senate 58-0. Oberweis said the bill was designed to reduce the differential between cars going 70 mph and trucks limited to 55 mph.
“It would make the roads safer,” said Oberweis, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin this fall. “There would be only a 10 mph differential rather than 15.”
Quinn’s responded by stating that this was all about driver safety: “no amount of fines, penalties or jail time can ever replace the lives of those whom we have lost to fatal accidents on our interstate highways,” Quinn said.
Citing the recent traffic deaths tied to big trucks traveling at high speeds, Quinn said, “The convenience of increased speeds for truckers on roadways does not outweigh the safety risks to children, families and our dedicated public servants.”
Quinn cited a July 21 truck crash on Interstate 55 near Arsenal Road in the southwest suburbs. An Indiana trucker, Francisco Espinal Quiroz, 51, of Leesburg, Ind., allegedly was speeding in a work zone when his truck slammed into three vehicles, killing 5 people. He has been charged with falsifying duty logbooks used to verify that a driver is not spending too many hours on the road without rest.
I think the Governor was correct in his decision here. Obviously the Chicagoland area is one of the most congested areas with traffic and trucks make up a big percentage of that congestion. Semitrailer trucks, if not driven properly or at a safe speed, can be prone to traffic accidents. Further, the results of a truck accident can prove much more deadly than regular vehicles based on the size of a semitrailer. I do not believe Governor Quinn was overstepping his boundaries as Governor in this situation.