Illinois seeks to make truck routing safer

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a reporting and education process designed to improve the safety of truck routing within the state.

The bill, House Bill 1377, requires the state as well as municipalities to report truck restrictions, preferred truck routes, and other pertinent information to the Illinois Dept. of Transportation. In turn, that information will be posted on IDOT’s website.

The bill is the result of a special task force that was charged with investigating GPS technology and compliance with the Designated Truck Route System.

“The difference between a truck-specific GPS and a device designed for car routing is significant,” said Rep. Michael Zalewski, task force chairman and state representative for the 21st Illinois Congressional District. “Using the appropriate tool for the job will benefit the citizens of Illinois by reducing accidents, congestion, and the costs of repairing infrastructure damaged by accidents involving commercial vehicles.”

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012, includes three key parts, requiring the merging of databases containing key truck routing data such as overpasses and legal restrictions; the reporting of designated truck networks and preferred routes by local cities and towns through a simplified reporting process; and an education effort to ensure truck drivers know the differences between GPS devices designed for trucks and those designed for cars.

“There is a significant gap between what is readily available, and what should be reported and made available for manufacturers, to utilize in providing accurate truck-specific routing. Providing vital height and weight information in an easily accessible format will benefit all who share the road,” said John McAvoy, director of engineering for Rand McNally and a member of the task force.

Getting the right information into the hands of truckers and GPS makers can only improve the safety on our roadways, not to mention limiting congestion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in traffic for hours after a tractor-trailer has struck a low bridge on a highway it should never have been on to start with.

Why was it there? Probably because the driver’s GPS device said that was the best route. It costs people time and companies money and does not need to happen.

The information is available, we just have to disseminate it properly. Illinois is taking a step in that direction.