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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Acronyms

When a person conveys an intended meaning from one to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules, they are communicating effectively. Communication uses words, sounds and behaviors to express or exchange information to successfully share an idea, thought or feeling. As the communication process of human beings continuously evolves, so does the efficiency. Sometimes communication methods break down, and the article this week will address one issue which generates much confusion in both the police and trucking communities.

One way to streamline communication and make it more efficient is to use acronyms. Acronyms are nothing new to the English language. Although the use of acronyms did not become commonplace until the beginning of the 20th century, some literature suggests acronyms were used in ancient Rome. While there are no universal standards for the structure of acronyms and their orthographic stylings, they are littered across the law enforcement and trucking communities.

The ITEA (an acronym, by the way) has written many articles about topics which are an acronym themselves. A reader may recognize some of them as IFTA, SHV, ITEA, COP, OTR, LTL and so on. The article this week will discuss an acronym used less frequently, but is quite important.

HVUT. This is an acronym for “Heavy Vehicle Usage Tax”. Most truckers and those responsible for renewing the registration of fleets have seen this acronym before. The HVUT is a fee assessed annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways at registered gross weights equal to or exceeding 55,000 pounds.

A common misconception about HVUT in Illinois needs to be clarified. When carriers register vehicles with Illinois flat weight plates, the physical registration card lists HVUT status on the same line as Special Hauling Vehicle status. Sometimes the word “suspended” is printed next to HVUT/SHV. This does NOT mean the vehicle’s SHV is suspended. Police officers must contact the Illinois Secretary of State, Commercial and Farm Truck Division to obtain the legitimacy of an SHV before taking enforcement action. The term “suspended” means the IRS is exempting the carrier from having to pay the HVUT.

In short, any vehicle with a registered weight of 55,000 pounds or more is subject to this federal tax. And the tax is different depending on your registered weight category. Vehicles registering up to 75,000 pounds pay a flat fee of $100.00, then $22.00 for each increment of one-thousand pounds above 55,000 pounds. Vehicles registering for 75,000 pounds or more pay a flat fee of $550.00.

Like all things truck law, there are exceptions and exemptions to the rules. Groups like federal, state and local government, the American Red Cross, fire departments, mass transportation authorities and so on do not pay this tax. Certain vehicle types such as agricultural vehicles traveling less than 7,500 miles a year, any commercial vehicle traveling less than 5,000 miles a year and qualified blood collection vehicles also do not pay this tax.

So why is HVUT important? HVUT helps to level the playing field for those who pay taxes to help fund road maintenance projects. The US Department of Transportation, in its most recent highway cost allocation study, estimated light single unit trucks, operating at 25,000 pounds or less, pay 150 percent of their road costs while the heaviest tractor-trailer combinations only pay 50 percent.

The HVUT also levels the playing field by ensuring that operators of heavy trucks pay a little more for the highway network relative to the motorists and light trucks who also meet their responsibility through other forms of taxes (e.g., registration fees, motor fuel taxes), but do less damage to the highway infrastructure.

The highways of this nation need funding. The HVUT is a significant source of transportation funding. HVUT generates more than one-billion dollars every year. While that may seem like a lot, it represents less than five percent of the total funds generated annually for highway maintenance by the USDOT.

Like all things truck law, a question which comes up routinely is whether or not local police officers have authority to enforce HVUT. The answer is no, but the secondary effects of failing to pay HVUT fees does create an enforcement scenario for all Illinois police officers.

The Illinois Secretary of State will not register any vehicle until the HVUT tax has been paid. Failure to obtain valid registration to carry weight on Illinois highways can result in an overweight on registration citation.

Like all things taxes, the IRS expects their HVUT payments. Be sure to fill out IRS Form 2290 when renewing and applying for new plates!

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A Word is Worth $1,000 (or more)

About a year ago the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association wrote an article on this blog regarding misconceptions of what constitutes a combination of vehicles versus a single vehicle. While sometimes the language of truck law appears straightforward, it becomes distorted when mixed with street vocabulary. The consequence of not knowing what the legal definition of a word means, compared to the common definition, is felt in the wallet when fines are levied. The article this week will discuss the erroneous descriptions of vehicles and loads when applying for oversize/overweight (OS/OW) permits.

Many local (municipal/township/county) jurisdictions require permits for vehicles exceeding legal weights and dimensions mandated in the Illinois Vehicle Code. A permit to travel OS/OW is obtained upon application, and the application is methodology for gathering information.

Many locals, similar to the OS/OW permit application used by the Illinois Department of Transportation, want to know the how and why of the load itself. One such question, or field of information, asks a carrier to declare one of three things:

Is the OS/OW load actually “loaded” on another vehicle?
Is the OS/OW load being “towed” behind another vehicle?
Or is the OS/OW load moved on its “own power”?

These terms may sound simple enough, but the reality is many carriers make the wrong choice. This delays the time it takes to receive an approved permit or the carrier may flat out get denied. In an effort to help understand the differences between these three choices, and to help expedite the permit process, here’s a closer look at what each term truly means.

Loaded
This is probably the most straight forward of the three. The word “loaded” could very well be interchanged with the term “carried”. A carrier should only select this choice when they are transporting an object on top of the highway vehicles. Think of movements of construction equipment, pre-cast concrete or roof trusses.

Towed
This is where things start to get sideways. Imagine a lowboy trailer is hauling a piece of construction equipment. Is the load being towed? Well, yes, but it’s also be carried. In the case of the lowboy or flatbed, the correct option is “loaded”. The trailer alone is most likely not OS/OW.

A towed OS/OW load is when a trailer is being pulled behind the power unit, and the trailer itself is OS/OW. Examples of this would be manufactured housing or tub grinders.

Own Power
Do semi-tractors move under their own power? Yes. Do straight trucks move under their own power? Yes. Does this mean when the OS/OW permit is applied for, and the vehicle is a power unit, the applicant should select “own power”? No. All permits loads require power to travel.

However, “own power” means the OS/OW load is the vehicle itself. The most common “own power” permit loads are mobile cranes. Other representations sometimes include concrete conveyors, well-drilling rigs and heavy wreckers.

When it comes to truck law, words matter. While it’s cool to talk truck slang with boys at the shop, there’s nothing fun about the tickets which may result in a lack of understanding.

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Challenge Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The World’s Largest Truck Convoy

Law enforcement and Special Olympics go together like peanut butter and jelly. The partnership between the truck industry and the police is a little more like cats and dogs. There are times when they get along great, and others times when the dog is always chasing the cat. The Special Olympics truck convoy is a great time for both police and the trucking industry to get together and have a good time.

For years police officers have participated in various fundraisers to help support Special Olympics and the athletes who participate. Cop on Top at Dunkin Donuts, Butterburgers and Badges at Culver’s, the Plane Pull, the Polar Plunge and much more.  All these fundraisers have helped numerous Special Olympics athletes compete throughout Illinois.

The purpose of Special Olympics is to help those with disabilities find confidence and fulfilment through sports. The program is international with more than 4.9 million athletes in over 172 countries. The fundraisers held in Illinois help Illinois athletes compete at the state level and beyond.

So how does the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association come into play? Well, as an organization of both police and truckers, we sponsor the World’s Largest Truck Convoy. On August 26th, 2017, it kicks off at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.

Registration begins at 8:00 am, and the convoy rolls out around 10:00 am. Heading west on I-90 to the Huntley interchange and back, the trucks will be seen for the entire 30-mile route. After the convoy, enjoy lunch and raffle prizes. This is a great event for the kids to come out and see some cool trucks and cool police cars.

Police cars? In a convoy? You heard that right, Oxcart Permit Systems sponsors the #squadhaul program as part of the convoy. Have your local police department put their squad car on a trailer and enter a contest to win $1,000.00 cash for the coolest truck/police car combination. The police cars stay on the trailer for the whole convoy.

If you can’t make it to the August 26th convoy date, Special Olympics is hosting two more convoys. September 9th, 2017 from 5:30 pm in the evening to 8:00 pm, CIT Trucks in Troy, Illinois will be hosting a convoy. This convoy travels down I-55 and 270 for about 25 miles. There is no #squadhaul for the Troy convoy.

October 7th, 2017 in Tinley Park is the last opportunity in 2017 to participate. The hours are from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm starting at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater and runs from I-80 and I-57, about 25 miles. This convoy will be similar to the one at the Sears Centre, and offers the opportunity to participate in the #squadhaul.

These events are a great opportunity to raise funds for the Special Olympics program. But they serve more than that purpose. The convoy is also an opportunity for kids to see some cool trucks up close, as well as an opportunity for police officers and the communities they serve to get together on good terms.

You can register for any of the convoys by clicking here.

Please consider participating in one of the convoys, or just come out to one of the events to meet some cool cops, cooler truck drivers, and support the Special Olympics of Illinois.  Help bring the cats and dogs together for a good cause.

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Get Your Money’s Worth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Split the Difference

The goal for anyone looking for a relationship is to find the special someone who “completes you,” who meshes with your personality and character so well you coexist in perfect harmony. This is not to say one must be identical with the other person, rather complement each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. As with all ideals, there often comes a time for compromise, but how much compromise is too much? The article this week will discuss compromise in the face of statutory truck law contradictions.

In the courts, judges and juries decide where the compromise begins and where it ends. Once a police officer issues a citation, only the courts have the authority to change, accept or dismiss a citation or arrest.

However, police officers have an incredibly powerful tool called discretion. Discretion is what gives a police officer the ability to make decisions appropriate for the situation. Without discretion, there can be no compromise and cohesiveness becomes diluted in a world of black and white law enforcement.

The Illinois Vehicle Code makes a compromise with certain trucks having what is commonly known as a “split tandem”. As most truckers and truck officers know, a tandem is a series of two or more axles where the distance from the center of the hub on one axle, to the center of the hub on the next axle is more than 40 inches, but is less than 96 inches.

In a normal configuration, a tandem is allowed a maximum weight of 34,000 pounds. However, if the distance from hub to hub is between 72 and 96 inches, this configuration is called a split tandem and may receive additional weight under certain circumstances.

Confused? Continue reading…

The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has a document called the Hamilton Weight Chart. It is a reference guide for ITEA members (both enforcement and industry) to use to help distinguish what types of trucks receive what weights. Cement mixers come in many configurations and are covered extensively in the chart, since they are infamous for causing confusion and frustration to truck officers.

Last month a certified ITEA truck officer stopped a 4-axle cement mixer registered as a Special Hauling Vehicle (SHV) that was driving on a public highway with its rear adjustable axle in the air. Since the truck only had three axles on the ground, it was treated the same as a 3-axle cement mixer. The problem the officer ran into was that the cement mixer had a split tandem.

The distance between the two drive axles was 74 inches. The officer turned to the Hamilton Weight Chart and discovered a contradiction in Illinois Vehicle Code law. The Hamilton Weight Chart states a 3-axle truck registered as an SHV with a split tandem receives 36,000 pounds on the tandem. However, the weight chart also states that a 3-axle rear discharge cement mixer registered as an SHV receives 40,000 pounds on the tandem.

So which is it? It would appear this vehicle qualifies under more than one category. Because the officer was trained by the ITEA, he made the mature decision in favor of the industry. He took the high road and gave the truck the higher weight allowance which resulted in the trucker driving away without an expensive ticket. He then took it upon himself to share this information with the ITEA so it could be discussed.

Contradictions are nothing new to the law books of Illinois and they are nothing new to police officers. Contradictions are an inevitable discovery for police officers, and they will not be reproved for being unable to figure out which way to proceed without help. Rather the officer will be praised by the ITEA when they decide to make a decision which protects the industry.

 

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