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Local Truck Restrictions: The Problem

In 1970, The Five Man Electrical Band released a B-side single called “Signs” opposite some forgettable A-side track. During the social revolutions of that day in America, everything was a target for rebellion. While the song describes how signs were erected to regulate the bell bottom generation, this article will discuss why local authorities create local truck restrictions (with corresponding signs) and the problems that follow.  At the end of this article you can learn how to win a free $100!

For decades, the truckers of the nation have bemoaned signs erected by local authorities which prevent trucks from going where they need to go. In their minds it’s only about revenue. It’s not a universal truth, but an unfortunate truth nonetheless.

But truckers also need to understand that complaints from residents about trucks are disproportional to complaints about other routine police matters. In the eyes of the citizens with zero truck knowledge, all trucks are “big”. They believe trucks are solely responsible for destroying roads, causing cancerous air pollution and cracking foundations. Could there be a kernel of truth in each of those complaints? Maybe, but the evidence is lacking.

What is truth is that the non-truck folk of local towns are carrying a load of angst about trucks which exceeds the load of angst carried by truckers about local truck restrictions. Time and time again, a resident gets a bee in their bonnet about trucks and a typical scenario plays out.

First, they contact the police. This can go one of two ways. Sometimes the police go out and start enforcing any law they can find against the truckers. Means to and end problem solving. The police get the word out they are not going to tolerate trucks on that street or in that neighborhood. Other times they do nothing as they have no training or understanding of appropriate truck laws.

Second, residents place calls to local councilmen or other elected officials regardless of how the police responded. The complaints could be from businesses negatively impacted by the work speedup of the police, or the calls originate from the unsatisfied resident.  Either way, something more needs to be done (in their eyes).

Third, the proverbial feces begin to flow downhill. Grand ordinance ideas are hatched, which usually increase the restrictions on trucks. How do they do that?  Signs, of course. With the conceptual idea of signs comes the secondary benefit…revenue.

The councilmen know how to balance a budget. “Mr. City Manager,” they say, “you serve at our pleasure. Here’s a new ordinance restricting weight on our streets. Now erect some tiny, non-conforming signs and get some policemen writing tickets for huge sums of money. And sell them some permits for any weight above our new law.” Cha-ching. Two revenue streams are better than one. The City manager conveys the message to the police chief, who in turn orders his soldiers to get busy.

Now before things get carried away, realize not every locale is like this.  Many local jurisdictions have legitimate infrastructure issues with crumbling roads and bridges. Not every town is looking to profit on the backs of truckers.  Many jurisdictions do things the right way.

The hope of the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is to be involved before the first part of the scenario plays out.  Police officers need proper training on how to enforce local laws restricting trucks. They also need to know how to adequately explain the appropriate enforcement of the law to their superiors.

It for sure is not a revenue game. Sadly, it’s not a game at all.  Every dollar counts to this industry so vital to our economy.  The ITEA provides the training, resources and accountability to make sure police officers enforce the law equitably.

The reality is this – locals need the ability to restrict trucks. But it needs to be done the right way and for the right reasons.  It needs to be done fairly.  It needs to be done uniformly. Education always precedes enforcement.  When the statutory right to restrict trucks is exercised, proper access needs to be granted as well.  The answer is always in the balance.

Next week this blog will dig deeper into the sins of local truck restriction signage.  Want to win $100? Click HERE to learn how! All you have to do is snap a photo of a local truck restriction sign and upload it on our website. Your name will be placed in a drawing for a $100 VISA gift card.

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