Illinois is no exception when it comes to doing things backwards. Whether its reversing the direction of the Chicago River, naming its first state capital in Kaskaskia, Illinois (current population: 14), or budgets and taxes (which won’t even be discussed) many things seem to be out of order. Why then is it that in Illinois, in order to operate some vehicles, drivers must have additional restrictions on their licenses? For an answer, rewind to the year 1986.
In 1986 the Federal government passed the Uniform Commercial Driver’s License Act (UCDLA). The Feds saw the wide variation in driver’s license testing and licensing requirements from state to state, which resulted in a large number of preventable traffic deaths. By the time the act became law in 1992, Illinois had already adopted its standards which were to be overseen by the Illinois Secretary of State.
Along with the UCDLA came numerous provisions on what the states could and could not change when it came to the now federally standardized Commercial Driver’s License. It was the UCDLA which derived the standard Class A, B, and C commercial licenses as we know them today. It was also the UCDLA which required a minimum age of 21 in order to operate interstate commercially. Testing was standardized. The effects of serious traffic violations on CDL holder’s licenses were standardized. All these provisions being administered by the Illinois Secretary of State are actually federal mandates. In order to be uniform across the United States, this includes endorsements.
Endorsements were standardized through the UCDLA to include only:
T – Double/Triple Trailers
P – Passenger Vehicles
S – School Buses
N – Tank Vehicles
H – Hazardous Materials
X – Hazardous Materials and Tank Vehicles.
At the time Illinois adopted the UCDLA, the Illinois legislature was prevented from creating any other endorsements in addition to the six federal endorsements. That’s where restrictions come in.
The Illinois legislature and Secretary of State recognizes, with the public’s safety in mind, some drivers should have to pass more testing in order to operate certain types of vehicles. Because the state cannot create an endorsement for the vehicle’s operation they instead created appropriate restrictions which allow drivers to operate additional vehicles.
After passing appropriate testing, drivers will receive license restrictions allowing the additional operation of school buses, religious organization buses, senior citizen transport vehicles, commuter vans and farm use truck-tractors and semi-trailers.
It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the fact drivers can get in trouble with the police when they don’t have the proper license restrictions for the vehicle they operate. However, when one understands how many governmental entities, acts and laws are at play it’s easier to appreciate.