Driving a semi-truck is not as easy as it looks, and the close attention to detail required for the job is often at odds with truck drivers’ stress and fatigue. Indeed, the long hours and strict deadlines set by companies for their drivers continue to have fatal consequences: thousands of people lose their lives each year in large-truck accidents, and little has been done to mitigate the damage they have caused.
In Michigan on January 2nd, 2014, an entire highway was closed for a day when a tractor-trailer carrying dangerous chemicals overturned; although no one was killed, nearby homes were evacuated within a one-mile radius as a safety precaution. Despite the truck-driver’s alleged citation for “reckless driving,” it was icy road conditions which caused the initial accident.
Each state has developed its own ways of dealing with such accidents while taking into account their unique circumstances, such as general liability, property damage, and weather conditions. Some states enforce strict speed limits for trucks and forbid them from switching lanes, while the speed limits of others (including Illinois) are less stringent. Michigan, for example, lies somewhere in the middle; there are no laws for trucks regarding lane-switching, but the highway speed limit is generally 55 mph as opposed to 70 mph for cars. In Illinois, the speed limit is 55 mph for all vehicles in metropolitan areas and (in most other places) 70 mph for cars.
Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure in August 2013 to increase the speed limit on “rural” interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph. There were indeed objections posed by critics, including the increased risk of accidents for truck-drivers, which were brought to Quinn’s attention; however, he cited the bill’s numerous protections to justify his decision, including one which allows heavily-populated counties to opt out of its provisions and another which lowers the threshold by 5 mph at which a driver can be charged with excessive speeding.
Although we may not see such changes in speed limit laws for truck-drivers anytime soon, we do maintain a wide range of efforts to lower the risks of these accidents and keep the roads safe for everyone. When you’re out on the road with large trucks, always maintain an appropriate distance, avoid switching lanes abruptly, and be careful of icy roads during the winter; do your part to ensure that we all can drive safely.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.