Avoiding the Pilot Car Patchwork

In 2013, Illinois was the last State in the Union to pass a law to allow concealed carry of firearms. While the debate runs hot as to the rights and wrongs of gun control, it exposed a regulatory issue not uncommon in truck world: a lack of reciprocity. Commercial vehicle regulations across the nation are mostly unified in things like fuel tax and registration fees. In recent years, there has been a new movement gaining steam in specialized transportation circles – pilot car certifications. The article this week will discuss this movement, how it’s applied across the states and high quality training being offered right here in Illinois!

Big Jim is a responsible person and gun owner (kind of a big fella too with long hair). He believes in broad rights to carry firearms concealed nationwide. He’s not a criminal and means nobody any harm. He only wants to protect his family and double-wide trailer in Kentucky when he finally moves there.

Jim has spent the time and money to obtain concealed carry licenses in several states from those which provide reciprocity in other states. For instance, he purchased a Florida concealed carry license which is honored in many other southeastern states.

By obtaining a few licenses, he can carry in forty-nine states, except Illinois. Go figure. In concealed carry world, Illinois is the donut-hole. The only state which does not honor other state’s concealed carry. No reciprocity.

What reciprocity means is this: even though each state may have its own concealed carry regulations which may not be 100% identical to other states, they understand the interstate difficulties of gun-toting Americans. Each state’s program might not hit all the same marks, but they are close enough to say, “hey, if you are good in FLA, you are good in our state too.” That’s reciprocity. Again, not Illinois.

So what does this have to do with pilot cars? Pilot cars are critically important as they escort the biggest and heaviest loads along the highways of the United States. Like all professions, there are those who are good at what they do, and then there are those who are scabs.

The problem is that any goof can throw some signs and a yellow light on their vehicle and voilà – they are a pilot car! Is this lawful? In many states, yes. Is this a good idea? No.

There’s more to being a pilot car operator than driving forward or aft of a permit load. The best pilot car services have high quality vehicles. They carry a high level of liability insurance. They provide higher education to their operators.

See the important word? That’s right. “high”. The best are not fly-by-night operations. They are professional services which dedicate their craft to providing safe passage of monster loads sharing the roads with unsuspecting and ignorant drivers. They raise the bar.

What’s raising the bar is pilot car certification. This is a training program designed to teach and train operators on best practices to perform their trade safely.

Because of the success of this movement, several states have adopted regulations requiring pilot car operators to be certified. The standard for training is Washington State. Their training program has been offered reciprocity in more than a dozen states, with even more states considering this model.

Specialized transportation already struggles with a disproportional number of harmonization issues when crossing state lines. Pilot cat certification is too important an issue to risk states creating isolated regulations which impedes commerce. What Illinois is to concealed carry, the State of New York is to pilot car certification. It’s damaging to the industry.

Adopting a pilot car certification is certainly an encouraged and welcome method to improve highway safety. The key for state’s is too honor quality programs like the Washington State model and provide reciprocity.

Guess what? The Washington State pilot car training is coming to Illinois in October 2017! Whether you are a pilot car service, or a carrier who has their own operators, the best training is being hosted locally.

Pit Row Pilot Car Services from Lincoln, Alabama is a nationally recognized pilot car service and member of the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association. Here are the dates/locations when Pit Row is offering their training in Illinois:

October 23rd  – Willowbrook, IL
October 25th – Springfield, IL
October 27th – Troy, IL

Reserve your seat now by calling (844) 474-8769. Be part of the solution.

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Challenge Yourself

On Wednesday, August 16th 2017, traffic safety professionals from across the state gathered in Tinley Park for the annual Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge awards Banquet. Scores of officers, government officials and members of traffic safety associations spent the morning celebrating the traffic safety successes of law enforcement agencies in 2016. Many of these law enforcement agencies are long-time members of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association.

The Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge is a program coordinated by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, which allows agencies in Illinois to compare traffic safety programs to other agencies of a similar size. It is more than a friendly competition, it is a way to constantly learn and improve on traffic safety practices throughout the state. The ITEA is an honorary sponsor of the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge and has board members that serve as judges for the Challenge’s submissions.

In order to compete in the Challenge, law enforcement agencies must submit a lengthy publication highlighting their yearly efforts in traffic safety policy, officer training, awards and recognition, public education and enforcement. The submission must also include a section, which documents the overall effectiveness of their efforts, and how it has affected their patrol jurisdiction. In addition, the Challenge offers specialty awards for departments who excel specifically in impaired driving enforcement, occupant protection, distracted driving awareness, pedestrian and bicycle safety, railroad crossing safety, speed awareness and, of course, commercial vehicle enforcement.

For those in the trucking industry, don’t get the wrong idea. The Challenge isn’t about which department writes the most tickets. It is about having an effective overall traffic program, which deters traffic violations, educates the public and reduces crashes. While enforcement numbers do play a small role in the Challenge, the other aforementioned categories are more significantly weighted.

What this program does specifically for the trucking industry is encourage agencies to take a proactive approach in educating those who operate or own commercial vehicles. Many of the participating police departments actively seek out businesses within their jurisdiction to conduct traffic safety training related to commercial vehicles. The great part about this type of training is that it addresses concerns on a local level by the officers who enforce truck laws in that area. It also allows creates a point of contact for local drivers.

In addition to educating members of the trucking community, the Challenge also demands there are sound operating procedures and policies in place when it comes to enforcement of certain laws. The goal of this demand is to create consistency in the enforcement operations of police departments throughout Illinois. Anyone who has read any of the ITEA’s literature, or attended ITEA training, knows fairness and consistency are our most sacred values. These values are shared by the administrators of the Traffic Safety Challenge.

Finally, and most importantly, the Challenge requires participating agencies to produce results. The judges want to see how impactful a police department’s traffic safety program actually is. The impact of a program is primarily measured by the number of crashes which occurred throughout the year.  Judges want to see what is being done to preserve the life and property of those who reside or travel through a given jurisdiction.

If the appropriate amount of enforcement, education and engineering is utilized, the result should be a decrease in overall crashes and injuries. Overall, it reinforces the concept that all traffic enforcement is done for one specific reason – to keep people alive!

Here is the ITEA’s challenge to all of our law enforcement members: Take the time to create a traffic safety program which can run with the best of them. Any department of any size can have a successful program if they identify what traffic issues reside within their borders. Fair and consistent enforcement, coupled with educating the members of your community and training your officers is all it takes to be a champion.

Members of the trucking industry, don’t feel left out. You too can play a significant role in traffic safety. Reach out to local government and see if you can offer anything to help better educate the officers in your area. It could be as simple as inviting them to one of your company’s safety meetings. Give the officers a chance to teach you the fine points of the law. In return, offer to teach them something about your industry. You may be surprised at how eager police officers are to learn about your industry.

Traffic safety is not just the job of the police. We must all challenge ourselves to make the roads of Illinois safer to travel.

To learn more about the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge, visit: www.iltrafficchallenge.org/

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Get Your Money’s Worth

Since 2009, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has made enormous strides in enhancing training for both truck enforcement officers and members of the trucking community. The goal has remained the same since ITEA’s inception and its mission will remain clear moving forward; bridge the gap between the trucking industry and those who regulate them.

Every year, the number of people whom the ITEA reaches greatly increases. Many of those new contacts know of the organization because of weekly blogs like this one. The goal of these blogs is to ensure that valuable information is disseminated to individuals who are impacted by commercial vehicle regulation and enforcement. For many, these weekly articles serve as a quick refresher on truck laws while for some, it is just leisurely reading material. What you may not know is how much more there is to the ITEA than these weekly briefs.

As the organization has grown, so have our responsibilities to our members. Those in law enforcement are, by far, the most active members.. From educational classes to the online forum, the ITEA allows officers from around the state to network and communicate about all things related to commercial vehicle enforcement. It is safe to say that police officers around Illinois are getting their money’s worth out of their membership to the ITEA.

But what about other members or those who are only on our weekly email list? Are they aware of what ITEA member benefits they may be missing out on?

While law enforcement members make up a majority of our membership, there are more than 100 members from the trucking industry! For those members, the ITEA has a plethora of services offered to drivers, owners and safety managers of trucking companies throughout Illinois.  The most popular service the ITEA provides to trucking members is traffic citation review.

If a member company or their driver receives a citation related to commercial vehicle regulation, the ITEA will assist in answering any of the confusing questions about the law violated. In many cases the violation is the result of a simple misunderstanding of the law or how it is enforced.

If this is the case, the ITEA will provide information and documentation needed to avoid future violations. With the assistance of regulatory agencies and other law enforcement professionals within the state, there is no question which cannot be answered.

For those who prefer to get the answers before they are cited for a violation, an ITEA membership gives access to all Standards of Practice (SOPs) and other resource documents. These are the very same items we use to train police officers in the signature Basic and Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer classes.

These documents are not only available online, but also on mobile devices for quick reference. These resource materials include flow charts for weight and size regulations, CDLs, safety tests and many other topics which are relevant to operating a commercial vehicle.

Members also have access to our online forum. This forum is open to all members throughout the state and allows instant communication with hundreds of other ITEA members in the industry. It also allows users to post questions which can be answered by ITEA leadership, many of whom are experienced law enforcement officers. The online forum is a great way to network with others, all while gaining a little more knowledge about the carrier industry.

ITEA trucking members also have access to training classes taught by the ITEA’s group of knowledgeable instructors. Many ITEA classes are geared to appeal to both those in law enforcement and those within the trucking industry.

The ITEA’s annual conference is open to all members and features professionals from Illinois’ regulatory agencies, law enforcement and trucking associations. This conference is a one-stop-shop for all commercial vehicle education needs.

Can’t make the annual conference? No problem, we will come to you! The ITEA offers educational seminars that are geared specifically to the needs of member trucking companies. Members can request to have an ITEA instructor come and speak at safety meetings and other seminars to help keep the company in compliance.

These classes are also a great way to allow drivers to understand things from a law enforcement perspective and even ask an experienced commercial vehicle enforcement officer any questions they may have. This is another example of how the ITEA is attempting to level the playing field and bridge the gap between law enforcement and the trucking industry.

Do any of those things appeal to you? If so, visit www.illinoistruckcops.com and click on “join us” to find out more about membership. For those who are members, ask yourself if you are using your membership to its full potential. If the answer is no, let the ITEA help you take the steps to get your money’s worth!

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A Tale of One City

New laws are created every day. Legislators create laws to keep people safe, enact taxes and make lives better. Sometimes laws which are created are not looked at again for many years, even though they may have become antiquated due to advances in technology, safety or increase in population. So how does a community learn when it’s time to update local ordinances to better serve a community?

Recently a municipality reached out to the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association to ask for help with their local ordinances pertaining to trucks. As with many laws in Illinois, their ordinances had never been updated to meet the needs of the trucking community or the people they serve. As a result, a ticket was issued which caused a stir on social media, bringing negative attention to the community.

If this was a “choose your own adventure” scenario, the decision could be either continue writing tickets the same way (the wrong way), or reach out to leaders in the law enforcement community to figure out how to do things better.

The organization in this fable chose the second path (the right way).  This police department contacted the ITEA for help in making their ordinances fit the community.

An effective ordinance in one town may not be so in the neighboring town. This does not mean there isn’t a solution, only that the solution may need to be achieved differently. By changing the ordinances to meet the needs for the surrounding area is better than using a blanket ordinance for all laws involving trucks.

A partnership was born and the ITEA and this police department will begin to work on revising their local ordinances to best fit the needs of the trucking industry operating in their town. By updating their local laws, the streets can be made safer for the community because the industry will have a clear understanding of how to make safe passage through the town.

These are the partnerships which make the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association an important piece of the puzzle for both police agencies and the trucking industry.  Together, the ITEA and industry can make Illinois a truck friendly state while still creating a safe environment for residents.

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What’s Happening at the ITEA?

Since the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association began in 2009, the opportunities and networking has greatly expanded. This organization now has more than 600 members and is always building momentum in Illinois as a resource for anyone involved in the trucking industry. The ITEA’s Board of Directors is constantly tasked with educational and outreach programs which not only help our members better understand truck laws, but we also help to provide perspective on how those laws will affect law enforcement efforts.

So what has the ITEA been up to recently? Read on!

Training

The ITEA continues to teach the premier truck enforcement class for police officers in Illinois. In April of 2017, the ITEA certified 20 new truck enforcement officers at our 40-hour Basic Truck Enforcement Officer class. These officers came from all corners of the state – from Woodstock in the north all the way down south to Shiloh in the Metro East area. The combination of classroom instruction, coupled with hands-on practical exercises, has helped hundreds of Illinois law enforcement officers understand the complexities of truck law.

The online discussion forum continues to provide answers to questions asked by members. Police members have utilized this function of our website to better understand truck laws and to share information on the vast array of trucks encountered every day.

Trucking industry and attorney members also have access to a forum specifically designed for them. Using the forum to ask questions not only helps the person asking, but also provides the information to other members who may have the same question.

The 2017 Annual Conference on February 22nd was the biggest turnout to date, and trucking industry members had a remarkable showing. The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Secretary of State, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Illinois State Police and our own ITEA instructors made this conference a first-class educational experience for all attendees. The ITEA has already begun work on the 2018 conference to make it even better.

ITEA instructors have also presented educational seminars at numerous trucking companies and affiliated businesses regarding truck laws which affect their day-to-day operations. This service is offered to members and the ITEA works to tailor each presentation based on the needs of the business. The ITEA also partners with the Illinois State Police to find speakers on topics which local law enforcement does not enforce, such as federal motor carrier inspections.

Partnerships

The ITEA continues to build partnerships with other organizations and communities. Membership discounts are provided to members of the Mid-West Truckers Association and the Professional Towing and Recovery Operators of Illinois.

In 2017, the ITEA attended the Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show, sharing a booth with Truckers Against Trafficking, an ITEA benefactor. During the show, ITEA representatives had the opportunity to speak with numerous drivers and owners to help them understand Illinois’ complex laws. The convention was a great way for the ITEA to strengthen its partnership with an organization which helps shape Illinois truck legislation.

The Mid-West Truckers Association holds advisory board meetings around the state, to which the ITEA is honored to receive invitations to. ITEA leaders are provided opportunities to speak on current enforcement trends from a police perspective and receive feedback from industry members about what they see happening on the highways.

Various state agencies continue to build strong relationships with the ITEA, particularly the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The ITEA has worked with these agencies to better understand the rules and regulations regarding things such as registration, driver’s licenses and oversize/overweight permits. In turn, their information is shared with ITEA members to provide best practices police officers, businesses and attorneys as well.

The Illinois State Police has been instrumental in the success of the ITEA. During the April Basic Truck Enforcement class, ISP troopers assisted students at the scale and provided instruction as it pertains to commercial vehicle enforcement. The relationship the ITEA has with ISP is one of great value and is a primary reason that ITEA certified truck enforcement officers are some of the best in the field.

The ITEA is growing and providing more training and partnerships to our members. If you haven’t joined yet, sign up at www.illinoistruckcops.com. If you are a member and would like to get more involved to help keep the ITEA moving forward, drop us an email at info@illinoistruckcops.com.

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Ahead of the Curve

For residents of Illinois, it seems there are very few opportunities to brag about their State. Specifically, when it comes to government and programs, there is often a great deal left to be desired. While it would be easy to craft a list of complaints the Illinois taxpayer has, it is not the purpose nor the spirit of what is preached from the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association. Instead, the ITEA instills in its members the desire to think critically, bridge gaps and work together to develop fair and sensible enforcement practices. Progress and innovation is at the forefront of everything the ITEA attempts to do.

This past month, ITEA members attended the Specialized Transportation Symposium hosted by the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association in Orlando, Florida. While at the Symposium, attendees had the opportunity to hear from permitting officials from many states around this great nation.

Carriers who specialize in oversize and overweight movements were also in attendance during the four day event. Much like the ITEA, the SC&RA has strived to bring together trucking companies, state DOT agencies and law enforcement. The goal is to develop comprehensive policies in an effort to harmonize permitting throughout the United States. The SC&RA has been extremely successful in facilitating these conversations, and many state agencies have responded to those conversations by taking actions to better their permitting protocol.

It was clear during the Symposium one state was leaps and bounds ahead of others when it came to permitting on state highways. The Illinois Department of Transportation and its Permit Chief, Geno Koehler, were recognized repeatedly as leading the way in the evolution of online, automated permitting.

The Illinois Transportation Automated Permitting (ITAP) program was also praised in its overall effectiveness and efficiency. ITAP is an online system which allows carriers to login, apply for a permit, obtain routing and receive permission to move over state highways in minutes.

Over the past several years some amazing steps have been taken in regards to the ITAP program. Geno and his staff have worked tirelessly to phase in new technology and make the program more user friendly.

In 2016, more than 230,000 permits were issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation, with 98.75% of those permits being fully automated. This astounding percentage means almost every person who logs into ITAP can obtain permission to move an oversize/overweight vehicle without talking to a single person, faxing a single sheet of paper or even getting up from their desk.

This is an amazing accomplishment which Geno and his staff should all be extremely proud of. The ITEA would certainly like to commend them for their efforts.

While IDOT is a leader among states when it comes to permitting, local government is also helping to revolutionize the way that permits are processed on local highways in Illinois. Many municipalities, townships and counties have begun to utilize Oxcart Permit Systems as a means of issuing local permits. Oxcart essentially takes the ease of the ITAP system and brings it to locals.

Oxcart’s one-stop-shop allows companies to easily apply for and obtain local permits, a task which has historically been an exhausting and confusing process. Currently, more than forty local governments are utilizing the program.

Oxcart is free to local units of government and can be used to issue permits with each individual agencies’ ordinances and regulations. Oxcart staff also offers free consultation to local government in the development of new permitting ordinances or the modification of existing ordinances.

While Illinois clearly owns bragging rights when it comes to permitting, there is one more thing to add to the list. Illinois is the home of the only known association which brings the trucking industry, regulatory agencies, attorneys and law enforcement together to keep the public safe and industry profitable.

That’s right, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is the only organization of its kind. As evidence of this success, the ITEA hosted its 6th Annual Conference in Carol Stream on February 22nd. A record one-hundred and sixty-seven individuals signed up for the conference with almost 40% being from the trucking industry.

This event gave attendees the chance to network with those on both side of the spectrum. All participants attended educational breakout sessions where they learned valuable information pertinent to how they perform their jobs on a daily basis. While those attending the conference may not have realized it, they were part of an event which cannot be found anywhere outside of Illinois.

The ITEA is proud to work with each of the nearly six-hundred members, and those who follow this blog and the ITEA Facebook and Twitter feeds. Regardless of what happens in the future, when it comes to the relationship between trucking and law enforcement, Illinois is ahead of the curve.

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A Letter from the Incoming Director

Dear ITEA Members and other blog readers:

I would like to personally wish you all a very Happy New Year! My hope is the holidays brought you the same amount of joy as I experienced with my family and friends. Like many of you, my past year was filled with many memorable moments, some good, yet others not so pleasant. With the beginning of a new year brings the opportunity to move forward with an open mind and a renewed energy.

Many of you may not be aware, but the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has been undergoing a great deal of change behind the scenes. One of the most notable changes is with the position of Executive Director.

For those who have followed the ITEA for many years, you have come to know Bryce Baker as an amazing leader, teacher and overall person. Bryce has been the face of the ITEA since its inception and has continued to instill his beliefs of unifying law enforcement and the trucking industry in every member the ITEA has gathered throughout his tenure.

Bryce has worked tirelessly to provide unrivaled education to both police officers and trucking industry members, while developing relationships with regulatory agencies, trucking associations and others who impact the day-to-day operations of the trucking industry.  He has also worked diligently to surround himself with a Board of Directors who serve and function at the highest level to better serve all members.

Most of the ITEA’s successes can be attributed to the hard work and leadership of Bryce Baker. Because of him, the ITEA is 565 members strong and carries a professional reputation of bridging the gap between two professions which have never worked as closely together as the way they do now. Bryce will continue to serve as an invaluable resource and will still play an active role in the ITEA.

I would like to personally thank Bryce for being an amazing leader, advocate, mentor and most importantly, friend. Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to work with Bryce in many capacities and I am now proud to be his successor. I feel that Bryce has prepared me for the challenges which lie ahead with the ITEA. I would like to assure you the core values the ITEA holds dear will not change under my leadership. Much like Bryce, I am surrounded by a supportive and talented Board of Directors who will be vital in continuing the mission of the ITEA.

The Board of Directors has undergone some changes with new officers being voted in. I have had the opportunity to work with the new President (Marc Fisher, McHenry City PD), Vice President (Jeff Moos, West Chicago PD) and Secretary (Chris Maxwell, Warrenville PD) very closely over the past few years. I am confident in their abilities to lead this organization with the same efficiency and professionalism expected of the ITEA.

Each one of these leaders has fresh ideas and a passion for commercial vehicle enforcement and the trucking industry. The Board has also taken significant steps to offer our members greater service by appointing Jeff Moos as the Director of Industry Relations and Chris Maxwell as the Director of Public Information and Outreach. These two positions will help create better communication between our members and the Board.

Finally, I would like you all to know a little bit about me. I have been a member of the ITEA since January of 2011 and have sat on the Board of Directors while serving as the DuPage County Chapter Leader. I am a Sergeant with the Carol Stream Police Department and function as the supervisor of the Traffic Investigations Unit. Prior to my appointment as a Sergeant, I served as the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer in the CSPD Traffic Unit for seven years. A majority of my career has been dedicated to traffic safety and it is a passion which I attempt to instill in every officer I come into contact with.

Although I come from a law enforcement background, the trucking industry is near and dear to my heart, as my father-in-law is the owner of a trucking company in western Illinois. He is a 40-year member of the Mid-west Truckers Association and has been an amazing mentor in helping me develop a heart for industry advocacy. My relationship with him has absolutely impacted the conduct of my truck enforcement and falls in line with the ITEA value system and beliefs.

I am humbled by the opportunity to lead this amazing organization and hope you all join in my excitement as we move forward into 2017. I am confident the ITEA will continue to deliver the same valuable product it has been producing for the past eight years. I have been afforded the privilege of taking the reins of a highly functional and well run organization. I look forward to working diligently for each and every one of you, and fulfilling the expectations of this position.

Sincerely,

Brian Cluever

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Special Olympics Truck Convoy 2015

When two parties have opposing viewpoints, it’s not uncommon for the two parties to move further apart as differences go unresolved. The angst, the presumptions, the speculation only serve to make compromise more difficult. The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has worked hard the last six years to find ways for law enforcement and the trucking industry to work together, and the Special Olympics World’s Largest Truck Convoy is one of the best venues for inter-occupation partnership!

This Saturday, August 29th 2015, the ITEA is partnering with the Mid-west Truckers Association, the Illinois State Police and several local police agencies to bring the Convoy to the northern part of the suburban Chicago area.

For many years, the Convoy has taken place in south suburban Tinley Park, IL. The participation there has been a fantastic success. However, the demographics of the convoy have always favored law enforcement and industry domiciled in that region. This year, the south suburban convoy will take place on October 10th.

But what about all those police departments and trucking companies located in northern DuPage & Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties?

For these truckers desiring to participate in the south convoy costs more than just the tax-deductible entry fee. Fuel, tolls, wear’n’tear and extra time (usually overtime) for drivers make participation less attractive. As the economy has slowly began to improve, many companies are back to working on Saturdays, making it even more inconvenient.

In an effort to involve more trucks and police officers, a second convoy was added this year. Kicking off at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, the convoy will head west to on I-90 to the RT47 interchange in Huntley, then turn around and return eastbound to RT59. The whole way being escorted by police officers who will open truck lanes and block intersections for continuous traffic flow.

Here’s the deal – it costs $100 to enter a truck. In the scheme of most businesses every dollar counts, but if $100 bankrupts your company, it was probably about to collapse anyhow. It’s a small price to pay to help a truly awesome group of people compete in athletics. If you have never had an opportunity to be part of a Special Olympics event, you are missing out.

The Illinois Special Olympics is more than just the Law Enforcement Torch Run. This umbrella covers many other events involving police departments such as the Polar Plunge, the Plane Pull, Cop on Top of the Doughnut Shop and more. If swimming in icy water, proving your strength or enjoying a morning pastry is your thing, would you consider participating in one of those events?

Since you are reading this blog today, you are most likely in trucking or a police officer involved in truck enforcement. This is the time to be a part of something bigger using the gifts and resources bestowed upon you. Just as important, it’s a great way to spend time face to face with those in an occupation who are normally at odds.

If you are police officer, please encourage truckers in your town to sign up for the convoy. Let your local public works department, park district and school district know their trucks and buses are welcome too. If you cannot participate in your official capacity, offer to sponsor a truck yourself!

If you are trucker, dig deep and enter a truck. Come and meet the police officers who are regularly involved in truck enforcement efforts and get a new perspective.

Most importantly, come be a part of something that provides opportunities to those who have physical disadvantages in life. It’s easy to take for granted the ease of climbing into a squad car or a CMV each day.

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Exemplary Police Work #7

Do you want a refund from the IRS this year? As you patiently wait for your W-2 form to get the process going, you have to ask yourself the annual question: do I save some money and try to do my taxes alone, or do I hire an accountant? The tax code is quagmire of laws, rules and regulations, and one wrong move, intentional or not, spells trouble. Truck laws are similar in the vehicle code. They’re complicated, and sometimes police officers make mistakes. The best truck officers, however, own their mistakes.

This week the article will look at a recent incident involving a mistake made by a certified member of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association. Next week, the article will show the stark contrast of a mistake made by a non-member, non-certified member of the ITEA. You choose which model of truck enforcement officer should be working the street.

There are three ways a truck enforcement officer can be certified by the ITEA:
1.   Attend the ITEA 40-hour Basic Truck Enforcement Officer course
2.   Attend the ITEA 40-hour Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer course
3.   Attend the ITEA 8-hour Certification Course, designed especially for those not originally trained by the ITEA.

An ITEA certified truck officer is not an “expert”. Where there are humans involved, there are mistakes. Police officers need not apologize for doing their jobs, but a humble spirit will take responsibility for an error…especially errors with pricetags in the thousands of dollars.

There is the law, and then there are exceptions to the law. With each exception comes more exceptions with limitations and qualifications. One such set of exceptions are those known as “Special Hauling Vehicles”, or “SHVs”. This blog has discussed SHVs many times before.

The trucking industry uses politics to lobby for exceptions to weight law. This article is not making a qualitative argument for or against SHVs, but as more exceptions are added to the law, the more complicated it gets. The more complicated it gets, the more mistakes will be made.

Currently there are five vehicle configurations of vehicles with SHV status, and there are several other configurations of vehicles with exceptions to the law which are not SHVs. Most of these configurations, SHV or not, do not receive their exemptions of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. These are the interstates and tollroads of Illinois.

However, there is one configuration that does receive the exemption on the defense highways: certain 5-axle combinations called “shorty dumps”, or “bombers” in days gone by. These vehicles are the exception to the exception.

Given all these rabbit trails, it is reasonable to believe a police officer may make a mistake? Absolutely. It happened just recently when a certified ITEA officer failed to honor the SHV exception for a 5-axle shorty dump which was operating on a defense highway.

After issuing an overweight citation with a fine north of $3,000, the trucking company contacted the ITEA. As it turns out, the trucking company was an ITEA member as well. Within a matter of hours, the issue was settled.

The officer acknowledged the error. He did not take offense to being asked what happened. He was open to correction. He immediately corrected the problem so there would be no prosecution. He even contacted the trucking company directly to explain himself. He humbly owned it. He protected the industry.

In a day when police officers are taking a beating in the media and social networks, it is encouraging to see professionals like this officer defeating the stereotype. He was not originally trained by the ITEA, but he joined and elected to be held to a higher standard. His exceptional authority (the ability to levy enormous fines) was voluntarily kept in check because he chose to have exceptional accountability (ITEA certification).

This system of checks and balances has worked every single time in the four years the ITEA has being certifying truck officers. Unfortunately, there are just as many times when police officers, who were not trained or certified by the ITEA, do the exact opposite. Read more about that next week.

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Bring on 2015!

It’s a new year and the ITEA is stoked to begin year number six as a professional organization designed to serve law enforcement, truckers and attorneys! Many times news reports and magazines like to issue lists of highlights from the previous year. The ITEA works hard to leave a footprint using this blog and social media, so it’s not hard to go back and see what all happened in 2014. Instead, the article this week look ahead into 2015 and see what is to come for the ITEA and truck enforcement in Illinois.

EVENTS
ITEA Annual Conference | 07 JAN 2015
It’s not too late to sign up for this event! New and diverse speakers from the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Secretary of State, Jason’s Law, World’s Largest Truck Convoy and Diamondback Specialized CMV Training will be presenting. The ITEA will also be presenting the first Glenn Strebel Award…our version of the truck officer of the year. Not to mention there will be multiple raffle prizes (including a pistol).

IDOT Customer Conferences | 06 JAN 2015 (Schaumburg), 08 JAN 2015 (Springfield)
If you are in the permit business for oversize/overweight loads in Illinois, you probably have had to pull permits from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The ITEA will be on-hand to answer questions of IDOT permit customers to help resolve questions and concerns about local permitting. Sign up now (it’s free!)

Industry Expos / Conferences
Mid-west Truck & Trailer Show, Peoria IL | 06-07 FEB 2015
iLandscape, Schaumburg IL | 25-27 FEB 2015
National Transportation Symposium, Atlanta GA | 03-06 MAR 2015

TRAINING
40-hour Basic Truck Enforcement |The dates are still tentative, but the ITEA plans to offer its basic 40-hour Truck Enforcement course two times in the spring…one week in the suburban area and one week in Springfield. This course is all about hands-on training. Half the time in the classroom, half the time with real trucks.

40-hour Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer | Much like the basic course, the ITEA plans to conduct this training twice in the fall, once in the suburbs and once downstate. Built to dig into the finer and most confusing parts of truck law, this course is for the truck officer who has been through a basic class and spent time on the road already doing truck enforcement.

8-hour Certification | The ITEA believes that police officers performing truck enforcement duties need to operate at an exceptional level of accountability given the exceptional authority  they possess. Police officers who have successfully completed an ITEA 40-hour or 8-hour course in the past can recertify each year via an online test. Those who have been through a basic school not conducted by the ITEA may elect to take this course to become certified by the ITEA. Coming this Spring!

SERVICES
Interactive Flowcharts | If you are a member of the ITEA, you have access to several paper flowcharts to explain when a driver needs a CDL, and IFTA sticker or vehicle safety test. In the modern world of portable electronic devices, these documents are easy to download. To take it up a notch, the ITEA will be releasing new interactive flowcharts throughout the year. You punch in the information you have and it will automatically tell you what the answer is! Plus, you will have the option to have the finding emailed to you in a report. The first flowchart regarding CDLs will be live mid-January.

Portable Scale Recertification Program | Yes, the truckers hate portable scales. However, they are a tool, which when used properly, greatly expedite the weighing of trucks. Each year the Illinois Department of Agriculture must certify the scales. In an effort to cut down on costs (passed along to the taxpayers), the ITEA transports trailer loads of portable scales free of charge to local government. In 2015, the IDOA is providing the ITEA with three weeks! Sign up now for one of the runs in January, May or September.

The ITEA is excited about another great year resourcing and advocating for both law enforcement and industry. As always, please let us know your ideas, suggestions and comments. We’re here to serve you!

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