Recently, in a village not so far away, potential trouble was brewing for commercial vehicle operators who traveled through this jurisdiction as the people of the village were in an uproar about a perceived problem. A recent decision to construct an industrial building with access from a road in a large residential area resulted in unhappy people. In fact, the people were so upset they formed a small committee to discuss the impact of commercial vehicle traffic on their residential streets. What happened next serves as an example of how local government should work to address the needs of its people while still considering all other stakeholders.
While gathered, the people recalled another “hot spot” for trucks had recently been built in close proximity to their homes. While the previous location was constructed along a state highway opposed to a residential road, the group complained of increased truck traffic since the construction. It wasn’t long before the group made their fears known to those of power within the village.
Instead of making a hasty and uninformed decision, the village administration utilized its resources to create a resolution satisfactory to all. Members of administration opened a dialogue with the local police department and learned there were officers within the agency well versed in commercial vehicle law. These individuals so happened to be members of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association.
The officers met with village officials and reviewed the complaints of the concerned citizens. The officers determined the roadways of concern were non-designated local highways which had an overall length limit of 55 feet for combinations of vehicles soon to be increased to 65 feet on January 1st, 2018. It was also discovered that “No Trucks” signs on these local roads were not enforceable due to the absence of a local ordinance authorizing the restriction.
At this point, two important things had taken place. First, the village administration did not do as many other towns have done. They did not aggressively approach the police department and demand the issue be resolved through relentless enforcement.
Second, the police administration consulted with their subject matter experts about the problem. These are two extremely important steps which should, but are rarely, taken when dealing with complicated issues such as commercial vehicle enforcement and regulation.
Failure to do these could have resulted in a blitz on commercial vehicle traffic. Officers could have been ordered to conduct strict enforcement on a series of unauthorized regulation. The potential outcome could have been expensive for unsuspecting truck drivers and resulted in severe civil litigation for the village.
With these issues exposed, the focus was placed on how to address the concerns of the citizens. The village needed to find out if there was even a legitimate concern about truck traffic or if it was simply a misconceived, emotional response to the planned construction.
The police department assigned officers to conduct extra watches and to document any commercial vehicle traffic on those roadways. This assignment was given with direction as to what type of enforcement, if any, should be taken if officers saw commercial vehicles traveling on these roadways.
Using the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association’s “Maximum Dimensions” resource document, officers were educated on length violations and proper citations. Further, officers were informed any driver issued a citation would require the vehicle to be properly measured. No citations would be based on an assumption of length. While this may seem like common sense, the ITEA officers knew these mistakes are often made by those not familiar with commercial vehicle enforcement. Most importantly, all officers were instructed to exercise extreme discretion.
With newly acquired knowledge, the officers took to the streets to address the concerns of the citizens they were sworn to serve. For two weeks, officers vigorously patrolled the streets in question and documented their findings.
Stay tuned for Part II next week!