Autonomous Trucking

Imagine driving down the expressway and pulling alongside an eighteen-wheeler. You look up at the driver’s seat what do you see? Maybe the stereotypical trucker with his John Deere hat and flannel shirt? What if you looked up and saw no one sitting there? What will a world of autonomous trucks look like and how will the police enforce violations on a truck with no driver?

In 2016, Anheuser-Busch partnered with Otto, a subsidiary of Uber, to transport 50,000 cans of beer from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, Colorado with a computer responsible for driving on the interstate. The test was successful and trucks driving themselves has become a full-fledged reality. Regardless of whether this is a good idea or not, the question the ITEA asks is “how will these trucks handle enforcement efforts?”

Forget the common traffic violations humans commit but a computer can correct, such as speeding or not using a turn signal. How will a truck handle a restricted route if there is no human to obey the signs? Some GPS units are designed for the trucking industry, but even those are not totally accurate all the time. Local roads have restrictions, and these GPS systems may not be aware of this constantly changing landscape.

How will a truck know it is being stopped by the police or needs to move over to the right to let an emergency vehicle pass? What happens when a truck is stopped for a weight violation? Will the computer system recognize the need to go to a scale and be weighed?

What about motor carrier inspection? Will these trucks be able to understand what a trooper may require at roadside? Who is the citation issued to? How will an out-of-service order work?

As with all things new, questions will be asked for every possible scenario. It would be impossible to eliminate the human element from trucking operations in order to ensure safety and compliance with traffic laws. Someone must be responsible for the decisions made in regards to safely loading the truck and ensuring it is routed safely to its destination.

Currently, some carriers pass through weigh stations and tolls utilizing a “prepass” system. This reduces congestion and saves time, fuel and money for the industry. As autonomous trucks become commonplace, these systems will make the movement of goods over the interstates even more efficient. If the technology is able to load a truck at point A and send it on its way to point B in a safe and efficient manner, this could be a win for everyone.

Technology is advancing and has shown to be a benefit to everyday life. However, all aspects of the advancement must be taken into account, including the enforcement of traffic laws. The ITEA is excited about this future, but it watching carefully too see what this future brings.

Spoilers

No, the title of this article is not about aftermarket products added to the trunks of modified foreign cars. No, this article is not about those people who leave comments on website reviews of movies which ruin the suspense. The article this week is about loads which have a shelf life, can spoil or even die. To illustrate the message, please join the ITEA on an epic journey of one man (Jim Harris) and his quest to balance the law with police officer discretion.

The rise of James Harris Trucking Inc began in 1985 when James (aka “Jim”) signed on as a dispatcher for a local trucking company. In 1989, knowing his potential was far greater than sitting behind a desk, he hung out his own shingle and incorporated his own carrier business. His wife Juanita couldn’t have been more proud.

Little did Jim know the troubles he would face as he strived for success hauling various commodities. “Not all loads are created equal, bubb” was a common quip Jim was known for mumbling throughout the years.

Early in his trucking career, Jim learned there was a peculiar law on the books in Illinois. In 625 ILCS 5/15-112(b), police officers are required to “legalize” an overweight truck. Jim was convinced if he was ever caught operating an overweight truck, the police officer would probably exercise his mandated authority.

One day, while sitting around at the MacDonalds (as Jim’s fave day of the week was “Macs Monday”), Jim had a conversation with himself.

“Would a police officer tell me to keep speeding after a citation? No way.” surmised Jim.

“Would a police officer allow a drunk driver to get back in his car and drive drunk again after arresting him? Nope.”

This potential scenario kept the big man awake many nights, as his first venture in the trucking industry was hauling garbage. What would happen is a police officer found his compactor overweight and required him to legalize? Jim knew no one, not even him, wanted to smell garbage dumped on the street.

Lo and behold, Jim got weighed. He truck was heavy, and he was prepared to make a mess on the street. The officer (who Jim later described as a “pretty good dude”), still wrote the ticket, but gave Jim a firm, yet unexpected admonishment.

“I’m not telling you its okay to drive this garbage truck overweight,” the officer said, “and it’s your duty to legalize the load before traveling again. If you get caught, or end up in a crash, I told you not to drive. Now I have a very important meeting to get to.”

Jim never described himself as the brightest bulb, but he was able to read between the lines. He saw the wink and understood the nod.

After a few years, Jim had enough hauling other people’s waste, so he moved into the ready mix concrete business. “Ah ha” said Jim (aka “Tony” to his closest friends), “the law says I can only be made to legalize if the truck is more than 4,000 pounds overweight.”

Jim was correct, but he was concerned. “Hmmmmm,” he pondered, “if a police officer made me legalize, it could not only spoil the load of concrete, but it could ruin my drum. Hmmmm.”

Well wouldn’t you know it, the same policeman who stopped Jim with an heavy load of garbage all those years ago stopped him again with an overweight load of concrete.

Interestingly, Jim got the same admonishing speech and the policeman conveniently had another meeting to get to. Jim was impressed with the deportment of the now-balding officer (who was wearing an “ITEA Certified Truck Officer” pin). So impressed was Jim that he offered the officer a Jim Harris Trucking company jacket and side-job as a driver. Wisely, the police officer politely declined both.

Little adventures such as this proved too much for Jim to remain in the concrete business, so he began a livestock transportation business. There is no way the fuzz would require a truck load of turgid pigs to legalize, especially during the summer months.

Now many years had passed inbetween these instances, and Jim (sometimes referred to as “Meat” by his even closer friends) was driving his GMC Jimmy haulin’ hogs when he ran into some bear on I-90. He was expecting to see his old flatfoot friend with the keen commonsense.

Wrong. The superstar policeman he once knew had been promoted and shipped off to midnights. The swine were not only overweight, but the smell of them hogs was getting intense.

As it turns out, Jim had only been operating with a Class-B (B for “bushleague”) CDL all these years. The policeman made Jim phone a friend (who Jim referred to as a “confidant” who always “bailed him out”) with the Class-A (A for “awesome”) CDL and another truck.

“By golly”, the officer told Jim in a robotic voice, “there’s a law for a reason and my video camera and microphone require me to be accountable to the public in the event of a FOIA request. I have taken an oath to uphold the law and will enforce said law with zero discretion. Sir, you shall remove your pigs this instant and obey my statutory authority.”

While they waited in the summer heat to off-load the extra weight, Jim lit up a menthol ciggy-butt (code for cigarette) and stewed. Several razorbacks died and Jim decided it was time to get out of owning a trucking business altogether. The letter-of-the-law spoiled a good thing.

Jim recently announed he would be retiring from truck company ownership, effective March 1st, 2017. He CHose to raise  fainting goats in Kentucky after he completes a brief stint hauling mulch for another company.

Godspeed in your retirement Jim. You’re one of the best and will be sorely missed.

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

Gadgets & Gizmos

In 1977, a forgettable film titled Gizmo! was released. The movie unearthed reel footage from the previous thirty years of outlandish inventions which never came to be. Humorous in hindsight, but technology today which impacts the future is bittersweet. Forty years has passed since this quirky movie was released, but 2017 is a battleground featuring two significant pieces of real technology. Electronic Logging Devices and Speed Limiters are their names, however their fates are still in question.

The debate surrounding Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Speed Limiters (SLs) is far from over. In fact, with the impending change of political administrations in Washington DC, these mandates may become nothing but mere suggestions or best practices.

Where do these regulations come from? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) who answers to the Secretary of Transportation, who is appointed by the President of the United States.

To think the political will of the seated POTUS will not decide the outcome of gadgets and gizmos is foolishness. One administrative stroke of the pen is all it takes to bury the regulation.

As it stands today, the ELD mandate will go into effect in December 2017, barring a judicial order to cease (there are several lawsuits pending against FMCSA) or a POTUS executive order. The FMCSA is expected to release its final rule regarding speed limiters early in 2017, as the comment period ended in December 2016.

The pros and cons of ELDs and SLs have been argued ad nausea by both sides who oppose or favor ELDs and SLs. The American Trucking Association (ATA) has long clamored for government mandates to require these devices. Why? Because their membership consists of the largest trucking fleets in America.

The Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) has adamantly opposed these same regulations as their 158,000 members represent the one-man shops who haul freight as sole proprietors. Make no mistake, both of these organizations represent trucking, but there is little common ground (and no love lost) as to how the industry should be regulated.

What’s good for the big guys hurts the little guys. Big carriers with deep pockets can afford these devices. They will receive bulk discounts for purchase and installation of the gadgets. When a carrier has 5,000 trucks traveling hundreds of millions of miles each year, limiting speed will save fuel. Even a ½ mile savings per gallon, per mile, per truck, will quickly make up the initial cost outlay.

When a carrier has thousands of drivers keeping daily hours-of-service logs, there is no doubt ELDs streamline the paperwork. More trucks equal more opportunities for inspections and fines. ELDs help mitigate the damages.

Local government has long clamored against unfunded mandates from “higher” levels of government. Unfunded mandates designed to solve the problems of a small batch of communities create a taxpayer burden on communities not suffering from the same issues.

In comparison, ELDs and SLs are unfunded mandates for the owner-operators. Could the gizmos make their operations safer? Maybe, but is it a level economic playing field? No.

The trucker with one truck making $60,000 year can’t afford a $4,000 ELD purchase and installation. How long will it take him to recoup a 6% investment to his bottom line?

The profit margins are tight enough as it is and these mandates will force many experienced, safe drivers out of the business. That’s not good for America or the American dream.

Don’t forget who is truly driving the changes: lobbyists. The gadget and gizmo industry has spent big dollars leveraging “safety” under the guise of their products. The technology is impressive, and the option to use these tools should be allowed.

The role of government should be limited to setting up boundaries. Drivers have posted minimum and maximum speed limits. Drivers can only operate this many hours. Allow elected leadership to debate these parameters as to what is best for the country.

The government should not be in the business of regulating how compliance with their regulations is achieved. This abrogates a pure, free-market economy.

The taxpayers have already paid for the how anyways. The police, and all their gadgets and gizmos, are the proven method to generate compliance. Love or hate law enforcement, the average motorist will be glad to see them when two trucks, side-by-side for 10 miles on a two-lane interstate, are proving whose speed limiter is calibrated correctly.

A New Year’s Resolution

On behalf of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association, Merry Christmas! We hope this holiday season has been filled with joy and memorable times with loved ones and friends. Christmas is often a time to look back over the past 12 months and reminisce about the year’s successes, failures and other little moments that make this crazy life worth living. It is also a time to look forward to the New Year and the challenges it will bring. Some will even go as far as to make a resolution for the New Year to better themselves, their family or their overall situation. In the spirit of this sentiment, we at the ITEA have decided to make a resolution of our own for 2017.

Since its inception in 2009, the ITEA has taken many strides and had many successes. All of the ITEA’s successes were possible because of our amazing group of members in both law enforcement and the trucking industry. As a thank you to all of members and supporters, our 2017 resolution is to give you more.

More access, more training and more resources will all be available to our members as we move into the New Year. This upcoming year, we are planning to put a special focus on our industry members. As part of this process we will officially be offering training opportunities for non-law enforcement members starting in 2017. From seminars to small classroom presentations, the ITEA will be offering educational opportunities for our trucking members who wish to have experienced ITEA instructors conduct customized classes specific to the needs of your business.

For those in law enforcement, the ITEA will offer revamped 40-hour Basic and Advanced Truck Enforcement Officer classes, along with update classes throughout the year. The ITEA website (www.illinoistruckcops.org) will also be undergoing a major facelift to make it more functional and to offer more interactive resources. We at the ITEA are excited about the upcoming changes and are working hard to make your membership even more valuable!

To kick things off, we will be hosting our 6th Annual ITEA Conference on Wednesday, February 22nd 2017 at the Carol Stream Holiday Inn (150 S. Gary Ave. Carol Stream, IL 60188). Not only have we changed the venue for 2017, we have also changed the entire format of the conference. Attendees will now have the ability to control their own experience with different breakout sessions offered every hour of the day. You will have the opportunity to network with fellow members of your profession while attending breakout sessions of your choice.

One of the biggest changes for the 2017 Conference is offering of breakout sessions designed specifically for those in the trucking industry.  We have designated half of the scheduled breakout session rooms specifically for you in the industry! You will now have the chance to attend presentations by the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Secretary of State Police, Illinois Commerce Commission Police, Illinois State Police, Midwest Truckers Association, Oxcart Permit Systems and more!

From roadside inspections to safety stickers, these presentations are designed to address issues specific to your industry. Those in the towing or heavy haul industry should not miss this conference as we are also offering classes geared explicitly toward your specialized area of trucking. Never before has this type of training been available in one place. This unprecedented opportunity is one example of how the ITEA plans on giving more to its members in 2017.

For those in law enforcement, don’t think we forgot about you. We know that every agency is different and commercial vehicle traffic varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The breakout sessions offered to law enforcement will allow you to decide how to best spend your day.  Law enforcement breakout sessions will feature presentations from the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Secretary of State Police, Illinois Commerce Commission Police, Illinois State Police, IDOT Safety Lane, Oxcart Permit Systems and more.

These classes are designed to offer you up-to-date information on many different facets of commercial vehicle enforcement. With the FAST Act ripping through pages of the Illinois Vehicle Code earlier this year, many federal changes were made which affected state commercial vehicle laws. Be sure to attend the 2017 ITEA Conference to learn how this law impacts your day-to-day enforcement.

The Illinois Secretary of State Police will also be presenting important information on the new Illinois Driver’s Licenses that have started flowing into the hands of Illinois drivers. Learn vital information on the security features and layout of these new licenses. Be sure to bring your law enforcement credentials as they will be checking them at the session due to the confidentiality of the information.

Looking to streamline the permitting process in your jurisdiction? If so, don’t miss a presentation by Oxcart Permit Systems. You will be privy to the features of the new online permitting systems that has revolutionized how local permits are processed. Oxcart truly is speed and efficiency at its finest. But don’t take our word for it, come see it for yourself!

Needless to say, we are very excited about the upcoming year and the 2017 ITEA Conference. We hope you share our excitement and are looking forward to taking the ITEA to the next level. To register for the 2017 ITEA Conference and view a detailed schedule of conference breakout sessions visit www.illinoistruckcops.org.

For those in the industry interested in educational opportunities for your business, please contact the ITEA Director of Industry Relations Jeff Moos at jmoos@illinoistruckcops.com.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association.

#ITEA2017

AdBanner-2016

Risky Business

Few words carry as much weight to a Commercial Motor Vehicle driver as hearing a Trooper say their vehicle is “out of service”, or OOS. Downtime, repairs, lost profit, adverse Compliance Safety Accountability scores and insurance rates are all things which begin to flash through the driver’s mind as they begin to consider the gravity of the OOS order. Throughout the history of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association, the legal reach of local police authority has been a constant discussion. It has been well established that only members of the Illinois State Police can place a commercial motor vehicle OOS. Not many are aware, however, that local police have authority to issue an OOS order for a completely preventable offense.

Brake systems, steering systems, coupling devices, lighting, load securement, tires…the list or potential OOS criteria goes on and on. There are many violations which could park a truck following an inspection. Realistically, a poor maintenance schedule could go undetected by a CVSA inspector for much longer than many would expect.

In 2014, 11.7 million commercial vehicles traveled an estimated 295 billion miles throughout the United States. Compare this to 2.3 million roadside vehicle inspections performed by 14,000 inspectors. One could understand how a junk heap of a truck continues to operate undetected by CVSA inspectors.

There are, however, many more local police encountering Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers on traffic stops or minor crash incidents.

One aspect all local law enforcement officers are trained on during their basic academy is the detection of drunk drivers. But it doesn’t take the 40-hour truck enforcement class to recognize the smell of alcohol on someone’s breath.

Suppose a commercial vehicle made a short turn and sideswiped the front fender of a car stopped at an intersection. Both drivers would converse, exchange information and likely call the police. If the car driver detected the slightest suspicion that the truck driver was intoxicated or had alcohol on his breath, what would be the first thing they told to the officer arriving on scene?

Despite the stigma associated with a DUI arrest, the cost involved and the risk to the motoring public, DUIs are on the rise.

Commercial drivers have an added challenge. Zero tolerance.

When an officer has probable cause to believe ANY amount of alcohol or drugs are in a CMV driver’s system, the officer can require the driver provide a blood, urine, and/or breath sample.

Refusal to provide those samples results in CDL disqualification for 12 months and an automatic 24-hour OOS order.

If a sample is provided, any amount of alcohol detected results in a 24-hour OOS order.

If the driver is found to be over 0.04, half the legal limit for DUI in Illinois, the CDL is disqualified for 12 months and an automatic 24-hour OOS order.

Serious consequences for serious offenses.

There are two main misunderstandings to alcohol and CMVs:

1.   Zero tolerance is not a DUI.

If a driver is operating a CMV (and by CMV the law is referring to a vehicle which requires a CDL) the zero tolerance is at play. This not a DUI, rather an administrative sanction. The sanction for having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04 or greater is a more severe administrative sanction. A driver is not violating the criminal “per se” DUI level until the BAC reaches .08.

2.   Zero tolerance is not CDL specific.

Merely being a CDL holder does not reduce the legal BAC while operating any vehicle to the zero tolerance and .04 thresholds. If a CDL holder is driving a car which does not require a CDL (and the driver is age 21), then zero tolerance and .04 have no relevance.

It may be easy to skirt the system when running with wobbly steering or un-serviced brakes, but the odds are stacked against a CMV drive engaged in risky drinking behavior. Remember, any of the 41,000 police officers in Illinois can put a driver OOS for drinking and driving.

AdBanner-2016

Posted in CDL | |

Inclement Weather Ahead

There is no denying it, and there is no hiding from it. Old Man Winter has arrived and he plans to stay for a while. While winter can bring headaches, it also brings something special to everyone who lives in Illinois. For adults, winter brings Christmas, New Year’s celebrations, extended vacations from work, hockey and visiting family members from around the globe. Winter brings children a chance to go sledding, to make snowmen and have a break from school. Winter however never fails to deliver the same thing year after year – snow. For trucks, snow has it’s own set of rules.

As snow adds enjoyment to the holiday season, it also must be removed, along with the stalled and crashed cars it victimizes. The two greatest tools to remove snow and cars from the roads are snow plows and tow trucks. Talk of snow plows and tow trucks is nothing new to the ITEA. Browse through the hundreds of articles the ITEA has written and you will find countless articles mentioning the likes of these trucks. The laws pertaining to these trucks are an ever-changing quagmire of rules and regulations that seem to change as often as the seasons. Tow truck law is so complicated the ITEA has two Standards of Practice dedicated to tow truck law which is available to its members.

Snow Plows

When driving down the highway on the eve of a winter snow storm, one may see dozens of snow plows fully loaded and patiently waiting on the side of the road ready to take on the upcoming snow. It’s a powerful sight and motorists would be powerless without them. Open the Illinois Vehicle Code to Chapter 15 which governs weight and size, and the very first page grants special privileges and exemptions to equipment used for snow and ice removal.

The IVC separates these exemptions into two categories: equipment owned and operated by a governmental body, and privately owned and operated equipment. As most would expect, government owned and operated equipment is not bound by the rules of size and weight law. It would be counterproductive if they were. Under certain circumstances, privately owned and operated equipment is also exempt from the rules governing size and weight.  But like all things truck law, these exemptions have restrictions.

In order to receive the exemptions the IVC provides while driving private vehicles a snow plow blade greater than 102″ in width, certain criteria must be met.

•   The vehicle AND the blade must not exceed twelve feet in width.
•   The snow plow blade must have an 18 inch flag on the driver’s side, and the vehicle must be equipped with an amber flashing light that is visible at 500 feet.
•   If the amber light is blocked by the load (road salt), then the vehicle must have an amber light mounted to the rear of the vehicle that is visible at 500 feet.

If these criteria are met, then according to Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/15-101(c)) these vehicles are exempt from the width law up to 12′ wide and are exempt from weight law. See below.

625 ILCS 5/15-101(c) – The provisions of this Chapter governing size, weight, and load do not apply to any snow and ice removal equipment that is no more than 12 feet in width, if the equipment displays flags at least 18 inches square mounted on the driver’s side of the snow plow.

There is one law however these vehicles are not exempt from – the laws of registration.

While Chapter 15 in the IVC allows a snow removal vehicle an exemption to the axle and gross weight limitations, there are no exemptions in Chapter 3 which allow the vehicle to exceed its registered weight. A driver can theoretically load a two-axle pickup truck to 40,000 pounds (although the would would break in half). But if the pickup truck has only paid tax for a B-plate, it is required to weigh 8,000 pounds or less. No tickets will be issued for being overweight on the gross or axles, but tickets can be issued for being overweight on registration. While overweight on registration tickets are not as expensive as overweight on gross, certain overweight on registration tickets can lawfully exceed $3,000.00.

Tow Trucks

Snow plows cannot do their job unless tow trucks do theirs. In most cities and suburbs in Illinois, residential parking bans usually take place when there is two or more inches of snow. If vehicles are left parked in the street, snow plows can’t do their job. When vehicles crash on the slippery highways and become disabled on the roadways and shoulders, snow plows can’t do their job. When these events happen, the mighty fleet of tow trucks come clear the way.

Members of the ITEA most likely have read through the two Standards of Practice published some time ago. The SOPs lay out tow truck laws and the many exemptions and limitations which go with these vehicles. While this article will not cover all of the Illinois tow truck laws, it will make a few points to prepare drivers for the winter at hand. If towing from the scene of a wintry crash:

•   A two-axle tow truck can weigh 24,000 pounds on the rear axle during a tow operation.
•   If the wrecker has two rear axles (drive axles), it can weigh 44,000 pounds on those axles during a tow operation.
•   There is no limitation on gross weight, but too much weight may push the driver into CDL criteria.
•   If the tow truck is carrying a vehicle (not towing behind), there are no extra weight allowances.

The most important thing one can do is join the ITEA and head straight to SOP 14 and SOP 18! Let this article serve as a reminder all Illinois tow-truck flat weight registration plates expire at the end of the month.

There is always time to talk about tow trucks. The ITEA considers tow-truck education such an important topic that the upcoming ITEA Conference in February 2017 has an entire block of training dedicated to tow-truck education for the industry.

Tow-truck laws are complicated and confusing. To add to the confusion there are new laws about tow trucks recently introduced in the FAST Act. The ITEA wrote an article about it last month which can be read HERE. The FAST Act will also be covered in its entirety during the 2017 ITEA Annual Conference.

Until then, prepare for what winter always delivers. Drive safe, arrive safe.

AdBanner-2016

Deals and Discounts

Before the turkey and stuffing were digested (or in some cases prepared) newspapers, television and radio were overtaken with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” advertisements. For those who participated in the madness which 3:00 AM brings the Friday after Thanksgiving, the hope is the deals ventured out for were discovered. For those who spent Monday glued to their devices searching for rock bottom prices on the “must have items of 2016”, the hope is the bosses didn’t notice the inevitable lack of productivity. There are still plenty of deals to be had at the friendly local Secretary of State Office! The article this week will discuss some great deals and discounts offered for second division vehicle registration.

What’s even better about Jesse White’s registration deals is one doesn’t have to wake up at preposterous hours of the morning, or search through hundreds of websites to find it. These deals are available all year round and there is only one website to visit to find all the information: www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

These deals and discounts are not part of any type of promotion or sale, they are special types of registration offered for certain vehicles qualifying for their use. Over the past year, the ITEA has released several blogs about different types of specialized registration which can be purchased for a variety of vehicles. The fact is there is likely a special type of registration to fit the specific needs of any trucking company in Illinois, the land of over 100 plates.

Many of the specialized types of registration, such as Permanently Mounted Equipment (PM) and Farm Machinery (FM), may only be used on vehicles which perform specific functions or carry certain items. These plates are offered at a significantly reduced cost due to their limited use.  There is, however, one little known type of registration which has the versatility to meet the needs of many intrastate carriers in Illinois.

The Mileage Tax registration plate is offered for second division vehicles registered from 12,000 lbs up to 80,000 lbs. These plates may be used on a second division vehicle being operated for virtually any purpose. This type of registration is offered at a cost ranging from $95 to $1630, depending on the weight covered by the plate. Mileage Tax plates are also offered for trailers with a cost ranging from $98 to $870 depending on weight coverage. These rates are nearly half of what one would pay if purchasing base weight plates.

Like any specialized registration, Mileage Tax plates do come with some restrictions. The most obvious of them being the mileage restriction itself. For every vehicle bearing these plates, a log must be kept recording the miles traveled annually. This information must then be provided to the Secretary of State at the end of the registration year.

The miles a vehicle can travel annually is also restricted based on the plate. Mileage Tax plates allow vehicles to travel from 5,000 to 7,000 miles annually depending on the weight rating of the plate. In addition to the original registration fees, a $500.00 surety bond is also required at the beginning of the registration year.

This bond will be used to cover any overages in mileage that may occur throughout the year. The penalty for traveling over the allowed mileage is between $0.02 – $0.27 per mile depending on the weight covered by the plate.

Power units and trailers which are registered with Mileage Tax plates must have a working odometer or hubometer in order for the plates to be considered valid. Any vehicle caught operating without a functioning odometer or hubometer will be considered operating without valid registration. The vehicles will be weighed and fined the amount which a base plate would cost for the vehicle, plus court fees.

Finally, and most importantly, Mileage Tax plates may only be used for intrastate trucking as they have no reciprocity in other states. Those traveling into other states must stick with flat weight (and the important “trip permit”) or apportioned plates.

While Mileage Tax registration may not work for everyone, it can be a cost-saving option for many companies. Sometimes savings, deals and discounts are available all year round. One only needs to know where to find them. No early mornings, waiting in line or dealing with unruly crowds is needed when you subscribe to the ITEA blog!

There are many more registration options buried deep within the pages of the Illinois Vehicle Code. These will be covered by the ITEA in future blogs.

AdBanner-2016

Regarding Murdered Police Officers

This week, the ITEA breaks from it’s normally scheduled programming of truck enforcement warblings. Instead, the article this week is the reproduced text of a letter, written by the President of the Illinois Association of Chief’s of Police, to it’s membership on November 22, 2016. These words reflect the growing anger and outrage all law enforcement has been experiencing the last couple of years as brothers and sisters in blue have been cut down during a season of political indifference in Washington DC. Thank you ILACP and Chief Steven Casstevens for being valued partners of the ITEA, and for allowing this letter to be posted on our blog.

*****

Detective Benjamin Marconi of the San Antonio, TX Police Department was assassinated in front of his own police station on Sunday, November 20th. Less than a week before the majority of Americans will gather together to celebrate and give thanks for life, love and family, the Marconi family is forced to turn their attention to burying Benjamin: a son, brother, husband, father and grandfather.

I begin this statement talking about Detective Marconi, as opposed to issuing a standard press release “on behalf of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police” or “as a police chief,” because the dreadful issue of overt, concerted and directed violence against law enforcement officers across the United States of America is personal. And it must stop.

I am compelled to speak. I am compelled to demand outrage from the American public. I am compelled to demand that the media gives this issue the attention it deserves – because the righteous indignation that has been afforded to countless other incidents of tragedy has not been bestowed on the law enforcement officers of this nation who have fallen at the hands of hatred, depravity and wanton explicit acts of anti‐police sentiment and murder. Detective Marconi was murdered. He did not die in a heroic act of lifesaving. He was writing a traffic ticket and someone shot him in the head…twice.

Despite my visceral urge not to, I had to turn on the news and tune into what passes for news these days – social media. Imagine my horror when I came across a video on Facebook of a group of young people in Austin, Texas over this past weekend chanting, “**** the police. What’s better than nine dead cops? Ten dead cops! What’s better than ten dead cops? Eleven dead cops!”

Those are vile, vitriolic, violent words. I want the media to print them, to show them, to showcase them and to broadcast them from the rooftops. Because this is the society we live in right now. Chanting for the outright murder of police officers is not protesting, it’s riot‐inciting and absolute terrorism. There is a peaceful process for speaking your mind. This is not it.

Don’t bleep out the expletives, Mr. and Mrs. Media, fearing the safe space of our country’s fragile young ears. These are the mouths, lungs and hearts connected to many ears. If the nature of this message is palatable to you and the sentiment appeals to your exploitation, let the freedom of the press and the expression of the American public cry forth in its purest and most uncensored form.

Americans are screaming, “**** the police” in the middle of the day, the same weekend that an honorable man was ferociously slaughtered in what should have been the most reasonable boundaries of safety – behind a badge, in a police car, in front of a police station, in the United States of America.

Does human decency remain anywhere? Have we watched the last thinning shreds of civility fall to the winds of indulgent, selfish, capricious cowards who do not speak for social justice but rather act brutally and sadistically for their own petty, indulgent crusades? Is there no safe quarter for the guardians and protectors, who at times are also forced to be warriors, who stand sentinel over our homes every day, night, weekend, and holiday, through onslaughts of weather, at the cost of personal and family time?

I am outraged. Yes, as a police chief and as a representative leader of my state, but also because I am a human being who is watching other human beings being targeted, assaulted, maimed, disabled and killed because they wear a badge that pledges their dedication to keeping communities across this great nation safe.

At this time in our country, more than ever, we must stop talking about theoretical common ground and find it…and stand on it…with each other and against the rage, wrath, and perceived vengeance of a vocal group who seek to bring great harm to our American way of life.

I am tired of grieving. I am weary of sending condolences. I am physically sickened at the thought of where our nation stands as a people in the face of a social contract between citizens and policing that has stood, perhaps imperfectly, for hundreds of years.

I refuse to accept the normalization of violence against police. Targeting, harming and killing law enforcement officers is a vicious, calculated act of domestic terrorism. It is not to be entertained, much less tolerated, by a nation that lives, breathes and thrives on liberty and freedom from tyranny. Every decent citizen of this country should demand that this stop.

Where is your voice? Where are your letters to the editor? Where are the media that so quickly plaster stories over and over about questionable officer‐involved shootings before all the facts are confirmed? Are you not outraged? Will you not give equal time to senseless killings of police officers and chantings for the killing of more?

  • Detective Benjamin Marconi, San Antonio, TX Police – murdered while sitting in his police car – 11‐20‐16.
  • Deputy Commander Patrick Carothers, United States Marshal – shot and killed while serving a warrant – 11‐18‐16.
  • Deputy Sheriff Dennis Wallace, Stanislaus County, CA – shot and killed investigating a suspicious person – 11‐13‐16.
  • Officer Darrin Reed, Show Low, AZ Police – shot and killed investigating a suspicious person – 11‐08‐16.
  • Deputy Daryl Smallwood, Peach County, GA – shot and killed investigating a neighbor dispute – 11‐06‐16.
  • Sergeant Patrick Sondron, Peach County, GA – shot and killed investigating a neighbor dispute – 11‐06‐16.\
  • Officer Cody Brotherson, West Valley, UT Police – struck and killed by criminals fleeing in a stolen car – 11‐06‐16.
  • Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, New York City Police – shot and killed responding to a robbery call – 11‐04‐16.
  • Sergeant Anthony Beminio, Des Moines, IA Police – shot and killed in an ambush attack – 11‐02‐16.
  • Officer Justin Martin, Urbandale, IA Police – shot and killed in an ambush attack – 11‐02‐ 16.

The officers listed above, sons, brothers, fathers and grandfathers, were murdered in the line of duty just this month. This reflects a rate of one officer murdered every two days in this country. This should shock the conscience of every American.

Again, I ask you, where is your outrage? I ask you to grieve for the families of these officers. I also ask you to grieve for all families of the 128 police officers who gave their lives in the line of duty so far this year. I ask you to reflect upon the 20,789 police officers, whose names are etched in granite at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, who gave their lives to protect this country. They did it for you. It has to stop.

That’s what the American public, community after community, leader after leader, elected official after elected official and person after person must say about attacks on law enforcement. It has to stop.

AdBanner-2016

The Exception Proves the Problem

In 2004, there was no bigger animated film than The Incredibles. The evil antagonist Syndrome, a self-made, artificial “superhero”, created technology which would grant any average person superhero powers. He justified his insanity by claiming “when everyone’s super, no one will be”. Syndrome’s warped ideology is a caricature of many things, truck law being one example. The article this week will look at how watering down laws makes them practically pointless in an effort to make all trucks equal.

In a perfect world, all things are equal. But it’s not a perfect world. Everything is not apples to apples. Some people are highly intelligent. Some are super athletes. Some are wealthy. Others are none of those things.

Spend a semester in a college level sociology class and you will hear talking heads working towards a single Utopian theory which concisely explains all human behavior. It’s the intellectual one-size-fits-all, and it will never be accomplished.

Legislation is similar. In an effort to do right by society, legislatures ratify laws which are meant to better the lives of their constituents. As luck would have it, no one law perfectly fits everyone, so the laws must have exceptions. Truck law is no different, and arguably one of the most excepted laws enforced by police officers. Here are three examples.

Example One – Weight Laws

The State of Illinois has four foundational weight laws: single axle weight, tandem axle weight, gross weight and bridge formula weight. These are contained in 625 ILCS 5/15-111(a). There are nineteen numbered exceptions to this law, and buried within each of the exceptions are more sub-exceptions, limitations and qualifications for each.

There are good reasons for these exceptions and they were hard fought and won by special interest lobbyists. The question is at what point does legal weight become useless? If every configuration and commodity has an exception to the rule, is it time to scrap the law altogether? (For the record, the ITEA is NOT endorsing this idea.)

The FAST Act required states to consider raw milk as a non-divisible load for the purpose of overweight permitting. This was the first time the Illinois legislature codified a specific commodity as a non-divisible load. A slippery slope for sure, as each sector of the trucking industry will surely begin campaigning to carry more weight in excess of legal.

That pesky “non-divisible load” definition keeps getting in the way though. Is it unthinkable to forecast a day when there are dozens of exceptions to “non-divisible load”? Is it fair to those who don’t have the resources to pay lobbyists to be the lone ducks having to play by non-excepted laws?

Example Two – Hours of Service

In recent years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration overhauled the hours of service laws. For sure drivers shouldn’t be tired while driving as it directly correlates to highway fatalities. However, the universal application of the law does not meet the reality of many trucking operations who have the ability to operate safely outside these stringent regulations.

As to be expected, there are a host of exceptions to the hours of service laws for short haul  operations, interstate vs intrastate, hazmat drivers and most recently a well-deserved exception for specialized carriers on their meal breaks. If there needs to be so many exceptions to the regulation, maybe the root regulation itself is inadequate?

Example Three – Illinois Idling Laws

Sleeping people (usually people who foolishly bought a home next to a truck lot or within earshot of loading docks) do not like the sound of diesel engines churning. In response, the Illinois legislature created idling laws so as not to disturb those who count sheep.

First, the truck has to be idling in one of nine counties (out of 102) and in portions of two others. Second, the truck can’t be idling for more than ten minutes in any given sixty minute period. Still following along? Good, because there are sixteen numbered exceptions from this point forward.

The honest truth is it’s almost impossible to create a scenario when a truck is idling unlawfully, thereby rendering the law useless.

It’s a good thing Syndrome was only a cartoon character.

AdBanner-2016