It’s a common theme among trucking associations – trucks make America’s economy move. Everyday deliveries are made to every corner of the country. Big trucks, little trucks, trucks with trailers, they all brings goods to stores, homes and factories. So how do those goods get where they need to be when a town has restricted every road in their jurisdiction from trucks?
Illinois allows local governments to restrict roads from vehicles based on weight. How a municipality chooses the weight restriction is up to them. The manufacturer’s suggested gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), registered weight (license plate weight) or actual weight (on the scale) can all be used to keep larger vehicles out of neighborhoods.
The intent behind the law is solid. No one wants their subdivision or residential street to be used as a cut-thru for trucks going from one business to another, or from one state or county highway to another. However, enforcement of the law has caused a lot of heartache over the years. When a police officer detects a violation, it’s not an overweight with hefty fines. The violation can be cited two different ways.
First, purest to the plain language of the law, a citation may be issued for violating a local weight restricted highway. This violation carries a maximum $50 fine.
The other way an officer may cite the violation is as a simple traffic ticket for disobeying a traffic control device. This carries the standard Illinois fine of $120, which should be enough to deter trucks from taking a shortcut.
The question remains though: what is a trucker to do when it’s not a shortcut, but a delivery to a home or business on the restricted street?
For example, a person is very ill and needs to take delivery of their medical equipment, which includes oxygen and other lifesaving supplies. What happens when the vehicle used to deliver these life and death supplies cannot lawfully travel on the roads needed to get to the destination?
What happens when a resident of a town owns a vehicle which is registered with a weight exceeding the restriction? The vehicle in question is a personal vehicle, but it’s still illegal to drive on the very roads the homeowner is paying taxes to maintain. Should enforcement be overlooked because he is a resident?
This same homeowner is now spending thousands renovating his kitchen and a delivery truck with a refrigerator, dishwasher and stove must now stop at the corporate limits of the municipality and walk the appliances through town to the person’s house. It seems silly to walk blocks carrying kitchen appliances because the municipality refuses to allow delivery truck on their streets.
Using back roads to cut-thru and avoid traffic or traffic signals is not a safe move by truck drivers. Larger arterial roads are designed to handle heavier traffic and should always be used when possible. Municipalities should use roads restrictions to keep these trucks from making their small roads highways.
Wise, common sense discretion is displayed when local government makes sure restricted roads are not being used as a cut-thru and not compromising regular deliveries necessary for the municipality or its citizens.
Drivers, pay attention to the restrictions and respect the community’s goal of keeping their neighborhoods safe.
Municipalities and the police enforcing the ordinance, use the restrictions with purpose. The delivery you are preventing may one day be necessary to save a life.