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Safety Inspections – Part 2

Welcome back! Remember the story being told last week about Bill the Trucker? Well things changed. After pretending to be an interstate carrier for about 8 months (when in reality he was an intrastate carrier), he got caught by the police. In a twist of fate, the very laws he was trying to avoid were now being enforced upon him. Shame on Bill. When you cheat the law, don’t blame the policeman that caught you. This week, the state safety inspection law will be examined and we will start to see why Bill the Trucker was trying to skirt the system.

To review, the law (625 ILCS 5/13-101) requires that certain trucks and trailers (generally speaking) are required to go to safety lane twice a year for inspections….unless the vehicles are exempt. There are good and noble reasons for safety inspections. The public demands larger and heavier vehicles to be safe on the roads, and safety lane inspections are meant to answer that call. While the core idealistic principals of safety lane are sound, many variables surrounding the program chip away at its effectiveness. In turn, cheaters like Bill the Trucker look for end-runs around the inspections. Here are two reasons:

Reason 1 – Complexity of Law Take some time and read 5/13-101. There are few sections of the Illinois Vehicle Code that can hold a candle to it. The first paragraph alone lists nearly a dozen power units which are subject to safety lane, each qualified by registered weight…easy enough. In the case of trailers, they’re not qualified by registration, but instead gross (actual) weight. This is still not the hardest concept to understand, but look at what just happened. A mandate was made by including certain vehicles, thereby quietly excluding other vehicles…and that’s where this law starts to come unglued.

The next section of the law excludes fourteen different “kinds” of vehicles that were not included in the original exclusions of the first paragraph. Within each of the fourteen different “kinds”, only six listed contain a singular type of vehicle in its description. To further complicate things, of the remaining eight multiple-vehicle exclusions, three contain exceptions or provisions to redefine its own original exclusion!

The kicker is the last exclusion, 13-101(n), where a previously excluded power unit classified according to registered weight, is now included based on the gross (actual) weight or the registered weight of the trailing vehicle. If you have hair, pull it out now. Bill the Trucker used to have hair. Unknown to most, Bill is highly educated and totally lost. And he is not alone (tune in next week).

Reason 2 – Political Inequality This is Illinois. No one is surprised that political lobbies carry a lot of weight (no pun intended). The residents of this State despise the system and the outcome of it, expect when it plays in their favor, of course.

Bill the Trucker hauls gravel. While he has some memberships with different trucking organizations, the lobby efforts hav

e not paid off to exempt Bill from safety lane. What Bill understands is that his 6-wheeler hauling stone at 50,000 pounds is no different than the 50,000 pound 6-wheeler drill rig operating on permanently mounted plates…yet the drill rig is exempt because of the plates. The physics that make vehicles start, stop and turn safely do not discriminate based on registration type and political ambition.

Bill also has a 2-axle, 12,000 GVWR tag trailer he hauls skid steers on. The trailer only weighs 2,500 pounds empty. However, the landscaper down the road tows a 2-axle wood chippers that weighs 10,000 pounds all the time…but the chipper is exempt as special mobile equipment. Apparently when the brakes fail on a chipper, it is impossible for anyone to get hurt.

These two reasons are no excuse for Bill to break the law…everyone has angst about one law or another that does not suit their purposes. However, it is not hard to see why Bill would be frustrated. The safety tests alone may only cost $20-$40 depending on the vehicle, but that does not include the lost time, wages, and fuel to obtain the tests.

As mentioned earlier, Bill wants to comply with the law…but are were so many exceptions, exceptions to the exceptions, and confusing qualifiers. Everywhere he turns for help he gets a different opinion and interpretation of the law. Tune in next week to explore that topic as it relates to law enforcement.


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