Across State Lines

America is a free market. A customer in one state can hire a company from another to complete a job, or deliver cargo. As a result, trucks must be allowed to operate between states with no interruption. So what happens when a company needs to enter Illinois with their trucks and equipment? How does Illinois handle vehicles with foreign registration?

As far back as 1968, the United States along with Canada have been utilizing the International Registration Plan for commercial motor vehicles to cross state lines and move goods freely. The plan allows a means for government to be paid their portion of registration fees for all commercial vehicles using their roads.

The system works well to ensure registration fees are paid and only have to use one license plate. This eliminated vehicles having to independently register in multiples states and the confusion it created. As an 18-wheeler moves from California to New York, they record the miles in each state and a portion of their registration fees is distributed back.

It’s easy for a large truck which regularly crosses state lines to know they need apportioned plates. But what about smaller trucks which may not cross state lines often? The rules to determine when a vehicle must pay registration fees to the state it is operating is as follows:

1)   The vehicle or combination of vehicles has an actual weight (on the scale) of 26,001 pounds or more, or

2)   The vehicle has three or more axles on the power unit, or

3)   The vehicle is making an intrastate movement

The first is easy. If the driver from a Wisconsin company goes across a scale and it reads more than twenty-six thousand pounds, fees must be paid to Illinois. This actual weight reflects the total combination of the truck and trailer.

If a driver is operating a semi-truck, with three axles on the power unit, he cannot enter another state without first obtaining the proper apportioned registration, or a permit to operate in that state. Illinois offers 72-hour trip permits for commercial vehicles from other states to enter Illinois, do their business and exit. When it comes to farmers from another state, the rules are a little different.

Farmers from other states may cross into Illinois and be treated just like they have plates from Illinois. But this only applies if they are hauling an agriculture commodity to a point of first processing and then leaving the state. In other words, the move must be interstate not intrastate.

The final rule is the intrastate move. This can be the most complicated of the three as it could apply to almost any foreign vehicle doing business in Illinois. For example, a pickup truck towing a trailer loaded with a motorcycle crosses into Illinois bearing Wisconsin registration. The pickup drives to a motorcycle dealer and delivers the motorcycle. At this point the vehicle has made an interstate move, did not weigh 26,001 pounds or more, and did not have three or more axles on the power unit. This driver has operated within the law.

The driver then picks up a different motorcycle from the dealer. If the vehicle leaves straight from Illinois directly into another state, there is still no violation. To change the scenario, imagine the driver has to get this motorcycle from one Illinois dealer to another Illinois dealer. The astute truck officer may notice a potential violation and decide to pull over the truck.

As the officer speaks to driver, he discovers the travels the truck has made. Because the driver picked up a load in Illinois and delivered the same load to another location in Illinois, the driver needs to pay registration tax to Illinois. In this scenario, neither the truck nor the trailer have apportioned plates or a single trip permit. Therefore, this vehicle is operating without registration.

There is one last exemption – the repair exemption. This exemption allows a truck entering Illinois from another state, which would normally be required to pay registration tax, to travel freely to the shop for repairs. The truck must display a dealer plate from the home state and have a work order from the shop.

For any company doing business in other states, these rules will help ensure you can keep on trucking.

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A Pair of Plates

Since the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association became an information repository to its member police and trucking communities, many questions have been fielded about the confusing laws of this state. Some of the questions require complicated answers, others simple answers and some require a lot of research. In recent weeks, a unique rumor has made its way to the ITEA and the article this week will hopefully clear up the confusion because bad information spreads like wildfire.

While the ITEA does its best to answer questions where law enforcement and the trucking industry intersect, the association does it’s part to try and clear up nonsensical rumors. One of the most famous rumors began circulation in 2009 and can be read HERE.

This rumor had truckers and police officers believing that a trailer hitch, when not towing a trailer, must be removed or painted red. While this may have been a proposed bill in days gone by, it was never the law. The proposal lasted about as long as it will take to finish reading this article.

The rumor dealt with today has to do with vehicle registration. It’s not surprising this rumor is about registration since this is such a dynamic and ever changing category of law.
The situation arose when a police officer stopped a semi-tractor bobtailing. Bobtailing is when a semi-tractor is operating without pulling a semi-trailer. The officer, who was not trained by the ITEA, took note the tractor was operating on a public highway without a rear registration plate. See the ITEA article “One Plate, Two Plate” which can be read HERE.

Through his basic training, he knew that vehicles in the state of Illinois are issued a pair of license plates. This truck had an Illinois (Z) base plate good for 80,000 pounds. Are Illinois Z plates issued in pairs? Sometimes. Here’s what the law says:

(625 ILCS 5/3-413) Display of registration plates, registration stickers, and drive-away permits;

(a) Registration plates issued for a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, auto cycle, trailer, semitrailer, truck-tractor, apportioned bus, or apportioned truck shall be attached thereto, one in the front and one in the rear. The registration plate issued for a motorcycle, auto cycle, trailer or semitrailer required to be registered hereunder and any apportionment plate issued to a bus under the provisions of this Code shall be attached to the rear thereof. The registration plate issued for a truck-tractor or an apportioned truck required to be registered hereunder shall be attached to the front thereof.

While Z-trucks plates can be issued in pairs, it was not in this circumstance. The truck the officer stopped was a truck-tractor and registered as such, which means only a single plate was issued. It was correctly affixed to the front of the vehicle as mentioned in the statute above.

Luckily for the truck driver, the officer did not issue him a citation. Although the citation would have been dismissed in court, it still would have cost the driver or the company time and money.

Are there any interesting rumors you would like to share with the ITEA? Follow us on Facebook and share your story with us.

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Exempt Vehicle Plates

Red. It is the universal color representing the command to “stop”. Octagonal stop signs are red. Traffic control devices are red. Brake lights are red. While red means stop, it is also the color which represents rage and anger. When things get red-hot, look out! It is also the color of warning. Think of the shiver up your spine when the metaphorical red flags are raised. The article this week discusses the reddest of red license plates in Illinois – the Exempt Vehicle (EV) plate. Does this plate represent anger? Does this plate mean “stop”? The answer to both questions is yes, but the better questions are why does the plate provoke anger and who is the plate trying to stop?

The “who” question will go first, which explain the “why”. The answer to “who is the red EV plate trying to stop” question? The police officer, that’s who. What the what?

Vehicles in Illinois, whether they be cars trucks, trailers, or buses, are required to be registered with the Secretary of State (SOS). When it comes to truck and trailers, also known as second division vehicles, registration serves as more than an external, steel plate of identification.

Registration for these vehicles also serves as tax to carry weight on the highways of this great state. The heavier the vehicle, the more tax the owner must pay. When the police stop and weigh a vehicle which has not paid enough tax, they are issued an overweight ticket with fairly significant fines attached. The stakes are high.

As is the re-occurring theme of this blog for the last six years, nothing is easy with truck law. It is complicated. It is confusing. The benefit of the doubt will be extended to the police officer because although he may take the incorrect enforcement action, it is reasonable to understand why he makes a mistake.

While all vehicles are required to be registered, there are exceptions to the rule. It goes without saying that if a vehicle is exempt from registration, it needs not display a steel license plate. If this is the case, why then is there an EV license plate at all? Does that not completely defeat the purpose of being an exempt vehicle?

Yes. The logic is spot on. However, because the law surrounding exempt vehicles is confusing and open to interpretation through the regulatory authority of the SOS, police officers sometimes err (they are human too). They sometimes mistake an exempt vehicle not displaying registration as second division vehicle which requires registration. Therefore, they feel there is an overweight enforcement action which can be taken.

The sole purpose of the red EV plate is to alert the police officer the vehicle has been declared by the SOS to be an exempt vehicle which does not require any registration. There is not an overweight on registration citation to be issued.

Unless, of course, the EV plate is being used improperly, or was applied for with fraudulent information. In those instances, the vehicle might have been required to pay a tax for the weight, but not necessarily. Truck officers need to use great discretion and check with the SOS prior to assuming they have navigated the law correctly.

Needless to say, vehicle owners have been left seeing red when the police officer has misinterpreted the validity of the EV plate. The owner who has done their homework, lawfully applied for and received EV plates, has some legitimate consternation. This does not excuse deconstructive behavior on their part to humiliate or prove the officer wrong at roadside.

Mistakes, as unfortunate and inconvenient as they are, can usually be corrected. The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has stepped in and settled this issue many times, and will continue to provide education to both professions to minimize the confusion.

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2017 Truck Officer of the Year Award

How is a hero defined? Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities.” Ask a child who they say a hero is and they say Superman, Batman or their parents. In the world of truck enforcement, a hero is the police officer who does his best to be a model for teamwork, ethics and integrity. How does one know who that officer is? Read on to find out!

For several years, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has been honoring local police officers who have shown they not only care about policing trucks, but protecting the trucking industry through their enforcement. These officers have realized the safety of Illinois’ roads is more important than creating revenue for the areas they serve.

A good truck officer continues his education well beyond the basic truck enforcement classes. He or she makes connections and relies on others when they are unsure if they are making the correct decision. That same officer is also a resource for other police officers, as well as the driver and companies he works with on the street.

Police officers take an ethical oath of office when they are sworn into service. They swear they will uphold the laws to the best of their abilities. A top-notch truck officer takes the oath further and agrees they will not bend laws to fit their needs. Illinois truck law is complicated, and all police officers should be on the same page when it comes to interpretation and enforcement of the laws.

Unfortunately, the history of truck enforcement in Illinois has had questionable moments. For instance, officers have been taught if they do not have scales to weigh a truck, they could use any weight information available to write a ticket based on non-statutory evidence.

Practices like this do not fit the integrity model a good police officer holds dear. Throughout the history of the ITEA, many poor enforcement practices which were once commonplace have been corrected. The Truck Officer of the Year award showcases how an officer’s integrity comes before ticket writing and revenue creating.

2017 is the fourth year for the Glenn Strebel Truck Officer of the Year award. The past three winners have been excellent stewards of the award and have continued to be models for future recipients. Glenn Strebel, the police officer for whom the award is named, was a part-time police officer for East Dundee, Illinois. As the ITEA was being created in 2009, Glenn passed away from cancer. This award is a way for the ITEA to honor officers like Glenn, who believed in the mission the ITEA would soon undertake.

The first award winner was Sergeant Andrew Thomas of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office in 2015. Sergeant Thomas has continued to share his knowledge with new truck officers by teaching at the ITEA’s state certified classes.

In 2016, the honor went to Vernon Hills Police Officer Art Fink. Officer Fink created a truck enforcement program when there wasn’t one, and became a driving force of fair truck enforcement practices in Lake County. Officer Fink continues to be a leader by serving on the board of the ITEA and helping with various programs directed at training police officers and the trucking industry.

The current award recipient is Officer Tim Sheldon of the Hillsboro Police Department. Officer Sheldon has been an integral part of bringing high standards of truck enforcement to a part of the state with very little enforcement. Officer Sheldon continues to participate with the ITEA and spread the mission to places outside of the Chicago suburbs.

So now it’s up to the readers to nominate the award winner for 2017. The nomination process is now open and can be found at the ITEA website HERE. Please take a moment to honor a police officer who is doing things right.

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The Project – Part II

Last week, this blog began to tell the tale of a municipality struggling to accommodate a band of citizens armed with complaints regarding a new industrial development. Their concerns revolved around a potential, yet unseen, problem involving trucks using residential roads and neighborhoods to access the jobsite. This week’s article provides the conclusion as the ITEA trained police department investigates the legitimacy of the complaints.

The findings from the study were exactly what veteran law enforcement professionals had expected: there was no significant commercial vehicle traffic on these residential streets. All was not lost, however. One officer was able to ascertain helpful information in the future decision making about addressing commercial vehicle traffic on the road.

It was discovered a popular “trucker GPS” system had listed a residential street as a “truck route.” While those familiar with commercial vehicle enforcement know GPS devices often display inaccurate information (see the ITEA article G.P.(B)S.), it initiated conversations about the new industrial construction and other drivers following these erroneous GPS directions.

The study results were brought to the police and village administration. While the findings seemed conclusive, they knew these findings would not alleviate the concerns of the apprehensive residents. It was time to take a preemptive strike to appease the citizens, empower the officers patrolling the area, and most importantly, be fair to the trucking industry.

To complete this task, officers went to the drawing board developing a reasonable ordinance to restrict truck traffic on local roads, but allow commercial vehicles to pickup and deliver goods to residents and businesses located within this residential area.

To avoid the proverbial “reinvention of the wheel,” the officers again utilized resources from the ITEA to pinpoint an appropriate resolution. They knew from previous ITEA classes and blogs, the Illinois Vehicle Code allows local jurisdictions to restrict the weight of vehicles on roadways they own and maintain. This particular section of the law does not specifically require local government to exempt pickup and deliveries vehicles, but the officers had the interests of both the residents trucking industry in mind. They knew certain exemptions had to be included in the ordinance.

Those working on the project also wanted to give officers a simple, effective method of enforcement which was fair to the truck drivers. Again, their experience with the ITEA reminded them of horror stories of towns where officers issued citations to drivers who violated local weight restriction without developing probable cause to do so.

In these cases, the local weight restriction only restricted the actual gross weight of vehicles. The signs were often misinterpreted by officers to mean the standard was the manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or registered weight. Similarly, truck drivers often misunderstood the meaning of these signs as well.

Using language written by other ITEA members as a template, the officers developed an ordinance which fit the needs of the village, the residents and the trucking industry. This particular ordinance clearly defined the restriction to be measured by either actual gross weight, GVWR, GCWR and registered weight of vehicles travelling on the restricted roads. It also provided an exemption for local pickup and delivery of goods or services.

The ordinance required signs be posted along the restricted roadways, with the weight restriction clearly displayed. This provided truck drivers fair warning of the restricted weight. With the collaborative effort of the residents, village administration and the police department, all seemed well in the village. But the story does not end there.

As can happen with projects of good intention, pondering minds can ruin a good thing. In this instance, certain members of the village administration began to question the authority to issue overweight permits on the restricted roads. This is a legitimate question for those who are unfamiliar with the finer points of commercial vehicle law.

Accompanying this epiphany was the thought of issuing overweight citations to those who exceed the newly constituted weight restrictions as opposed to the uniform weight laws mandated by the Illinois Vehicle Code. The village administration was not the first to believe the local weight restriction allows for overweight citations and permitting.

However, this administration was not like so many others in Illinois. They went back to their ITEA certified officers and asked about the authority to enforce these regulations with permits. The officers quickly informed the administrators that overweight violations could not be written, nor could overweight permits be issued for vehicles violating the local weight restrictions.

Further, the officers pointed out the very same statute which allowed the village to restrict commercial vehicles on local roads also provides a specific fine. Another potential disaster was averted thanks to the knowledge and training received from the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association.

These conversations happen daily in local Illinois government when officials have to deal with a new problem involving trucks. However, the ending is vastly different from those who do not act as this village did.

Communication, education and accountability all came into play during this project. These are things the ITEA preaches and expects of its member agencies. Remember, this exact situation could happen in any Illinois municipality at any given time. Who do you want behind the wheel of a project like this?

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The Project – Part I

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!

 

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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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An Ode to the Truck Driver

Look around right now. What do you see? A phone, computer, lights maybe a chair. What do all these things have in common? They were all delivered by a truck. Every product in the world at some point spent time on a truck. Those trucks were driven by talented men and women, who for one week every year get recognized. That week in 2017 was September 10th through the 16th. This may be a couple weeks late, but the ITEA would like recognize all the hard-working drivers out there.

The history of trucking in the United States started around 1910. In 1913, the first state weight limits for trucks were introduced, with the highest being 28,000 pounds. The weight limits were due to the tires being solid rubber which caused extensive damage to early gravel and dirt roads.

During World War I, the military began using trucks to move equipment and soldiers more efficiently. Due to railroad capacity maxed out for the war, trucks became another way to move goods across the land. The pneumatic tire was soon created and cross-country travel with heavier loads became a common use for the truck.

After World War I, trucks became commonplace with more than one million vehicles operating nationwide by 1920. The invention of the diesel engine made truck transportation more efficient, along with advancements in steering and brakes. Soon came the birth of the fifth wheel as well as standards for truck sizes. By 1933 all states had begun to regulate truck weight.

During the 1930s, the federal government began to regulate the industry, including hours of service rules. As trucking progressed, trucking business exploded as a means to get goods anywhere in the nation quickly and safely. In 1935, the Motor Carrier Act was signed into law which created rules for the trucking industry to follow.

By 1956, the interstate highway system was created and a national, uniform gross weight limit was enacted: 73,280 pounds. Intermodal shipping was created the same year to move goods from ships to trains to trucks. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) was initiated and studies on the impact weight were conducted for pavement and bridges. This study led to the creation of the federal bridge formula based on axle spacings.

Fast forward to 1974 and the 73,280 gross weight limit was increased to 80,000 pounds. Citizen’s Band, or “CB” radios were all the rage. The truck driver anthem “Convoy” was released in 1976. Truck driving was in its heyday in the 70’s with the movie “Smokie and the Bandit” released in 1977 and the movie “Convoy” released in 1978.

The trucking industry lost some of its glamour when the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 partially deregulated the industry. This led to a disruptive increase in the number of trucking companies. By 2006, over twenty-six million trucks hauled approximately nine billion tons of freight across the United States.

So, there it is, a brief history of some of the most important cogs in the machine that is American business. Without trucks and truck drivers, Americans would be sitting on earth, in the dark, with no way of reading the weekly blog from the ITEA.

The ITEA salutes you Mr. Truck Driver and all you do to support the economy. And we will continue to assist you in understanding the complex truck laws so that you can stay safe and operate more efficiently.

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Defense Highways

Regardless of personal politics, the United States of America boasts a government which serves its people like none other. One such service provided is an incredibly complex, expensive and comprehensive interstate highway system. What the people of this great nation forget is that this road network is on loan. It’s open for public use for a limited time, which has an incredible impact on the carrier industry. This week’s article will look at the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (NSIDH) and the peculiarities it bestows upon Illinois truck law.

There are many road networks going by even more names out there. There are honorary highways and historic highways. Texas has Farm Road and Ranch Roads. Illinois has Class I, II and III highways along with the sub-varieties of designated and non-designated highways. The federal government manages the National Network, which is not to be confused with the NSIDH.

The NSIDH was not built primarily for civilian use, but for the military. Long before World War II, Nazi Germany established a system of highways to move their military across the nation in the event war came to their soil. It did, they lost, but General Eisenhower learned a valuable lesson from the enemy. The biggest public works project in the history of this nation came under his leadership after being elected President post-war.

The truth is the federal government can shut down or severely restrict the amount of civilian traffic on the interstate system if a conflict came to the homeland. The purpose of the highways are to move our military machine across the nation efficiently.

Because the NSIDH is operated and regulated by the federal government, a uniform system of rules applies nationwide. States are given autonomy to govern the interstate highways within their borders, but there are guidelines and limitations to this authority.

As regulatory agencies like the United States Department of Transportation debate and create rules and federal statutes for the NSIDH, the final product is applied to the road system. However, the rules do not apply to road systems not under federal oversight.

In recent years, there has been spirited debate on increasing the length of semi-trailers, double-bottoms and the weight of certain combinations. If these new maximums were to become federal law, they would apply only to interstates in Illinois. Illinois would be free to adopt identical regulations for the rest of the highways in the state, but would not be required to do so.

Changes such as these were seen in the MAP-21 bill, more recently the FAST Act and certainly there will be more to come. The issue which arises is an inversion philosophy. What happens when states want to create laws for trucks operating on their interstates, but the federal statutes do not allow it?

For instance, Illinois has a “Special Hauling Vehicle” (SHV) status for certain 5-axle semi-tractor trailer combinations (625 ILCS 5/15-111-A-10). This law provides higher than normal weights than allowed by the mandated federal bridge formula for the NSIDH. When Illinois created this law in the mid-1980’s, the federal government allowed Illinois to do this, but it could not be a permanent exception on their road.

Hence, the provision allowing “shorty dumps”, or “bombers”, to be 72,000 pounds gross on all highways in Illinois, expires every 10 years. It expired in 1994, 2004, 2014 and now 2024. Each decade legislation is introduced and passed to keep this temporary exception, well, permanent.

The same benefit is not extended to other SHV vehicles though. Hogstaubers (sewer cleaning and jetting vacuum trucks, 15-111-A-8), 3-axle cement mixers (15-111-A-7.5) and 4-axle concrete mixers with split axles (15-111-A-9) do not get the same treatment on the NSIDH as their 5-axle semi cousins.

In fact, these vehicles lose their SHV status when operating on the NSIDH. Instead of exercising protections for extra weight while operating on all other Illinois roads, they only receive legal weights when on the NSIDH!

There are also configurations which have weight exceptions in Illinois that are not required to be registered as SHVs. However, they do not receive the higher weights on the NSIDH either. These include rendering trucks (15-111-A-6) and 3-axle garbage compactors/roll-off trucks (15-111-A-7).

General Eisenhower probably didn’t conceptualize the intricacies of future Illinois weights law when the NSIDH was born, but it is what it is until Uncle Sam shuts it down, of course.

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The Case for ITEA Training

Knowledge is power. When it comes to Illinois truck law, the more one knows and understands, the more power they have. With volumes of Illinois laws and regulations, coupled with even more federal laws and regulations, it is hard to stay on top of all the changes. The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has worked hard to provide the knowledge to more than two-dozen local police officers this past week.

The ITEA hosted a week of basic truck enforcement from September 11th through the 15th. During this 40-hour class, police officers were instructed by many veteran officers who instructed them on enforcement of commercial vehicles. The students spent their mornings in the classroom learning from as many as five different instructors throughout the week.

The afternoon portions of the class were spent receiving a hands-on education at a local state scale. During this block on instruction, even more veteran truck officers come out to help the students learn the basics of weight, dimensions, driver’s licenses and registration enforcement. The volume of trucks which came through the scale during this portion of the class is like no other truck enforcement class in Illinois.

Twenty-four police officers from across the state took the pledge to up truck enforcement accountability. These officers are the next generation of improved community relations between the police and the public they serve. As more officers are trained by the ITEA to ethically conduct truck enforcement, Illinois will benefit greatly.

A hot topic across the nation is police-public relations. The ITEA teaches future truck officers that it is not about creating revenue or making it hard for a business to make a profit, but instead about keeping roads safe. These officers are shown how to fairly interpret the laws and educate drivers on how to better stay safe.

These officers were taught discretion and sound decision making skills. Not every driver of every truck which breaks the law is a lawbreaker. Most are hardworking people who made a mistake. These drivers may have to be written citations for their mistakes, but ITEA truck officers will explain why they received the violation and how to correct it in the future.

During the afternoon hours of the ITEA class, the students watched truck after truck roll over a state scale. Many of the drivers showed they supported our efforts by adding their own enforcement experiences to help these officers understand what they see. Most police officers do not have a background in trucking, so learning on the job is the only (and best way) to learn about industry particulars. The classroom has so many limitations.

The students in the class built a network to continue their learning. They have a new peer group to support their efforts. The ITEA is the graduation resource available to answer questions throughout their career as a truck enforcement officer. This cooperative effort is being undertaken throughout Illinois to ensure trucking companies are being treated uniformly.

The ITEA will always be at the forefront of Illinois truck enforcement for both police and industry. If the police are writing tickets to second division vehicles, the ITEA will be there to help them understand the laws and enforce them properly. The real fun comes next month at the ITEA’s signature Advanced Truck Officer class. Police officers will be in the driver’s seat of a semi-truck to see what life is like when the flashing lights are in their rear-view mirrors!

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