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Winter Rules Review

Sometimes the list of things to love about Illinois is so long people forget to include one of its biggest assets: winter. Well, maybe that is one of the reasons people flee Illinois, but truth be told, winter is a huge part of the state economy. Snow removal, automotive repair and summer roadwork are jobs provided for as a result of winter. As the cold begins to move in, it’s time to review truck laws as they apply to snow!

Rumor in Illinois meteorology is the winter of 2015-2016 is going to mild. This is because of the natural phenomenon called “El Nino”. Here’s what everyone already knows – winter in Illinois will always be cold. There will be snow. It will probably be miserable. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

Within the scope of trucking, there is a lot of variation based on vehicle configurations, purpose and commodity. This of course means there are unique winter rules which may apply to some trucks, but not all. Several of these have been discussed at length in previous articles, and links are provided in those paragraphs.

Flashing Lights – Click HERE The ITEA would implore police officers to use good discretion before citing snow plow trucks for this offense. The ITEA would also implore snow plow drivers to be conscientious about this law so you do not get a ticket! Just because you have a snowplow does not mean you are licensed to run around on public highways with your flashing yellow lights on. You are more than welcome to run those lights while plowing private property parking lots as you may very well be required to under contract. However, when you are out on the roadway, the lights must go off, unless…

Plow Blades Greater than 102” – Click HERE If you have a plow blade which is 102” (8’6”) or less, that is legal width. You cannot have a flashing light. However, if your plow blade is greater than 102”, you are REQUIRED to have a flashing yellow or amber light(s) visible for 500’ in all directions!

Remember, if your plow blade is greater than 102” you are exceeding legal width. The Illinois Vehicle Code provides an exception up to 144” (12’) in width, but you must meet the flashing light requirement, and you must have an 18” square flag on the driver’s side corner of the blade.

Axle & Gross Weights – Click HERE Vehicles involved in snow & ice removal are not required to conform to gross, axle or bridge formula weight laws of Chapter 15. The question which begs answering is what qualifies as snow & ice removal? It’s pretty safe to say if the truck has a plow blade, spreader and/or a load of salt, it is safe to exceed to exceeds these weight limits. If the truck is just hauling salt from point A to point B, probably not.

Here are two weight laws not exempted. 1) As a truck owner, even if your entire gross weight (vehicle and load) are lawfully exceeding the Chapter 15 weight laws, you still must pay enough tax for registration to cover the gross weight. No breaks there. 2) If your driver is lawfully exceeding the same Chapter 15 weights, he still may not exceed the posted weights on a ton load or legal weight structure. Those are absolutes with no exceptions.

Inclement Weather – Click HERE Obviously many trucks are built to operate in the worst of conditions. Trucks which may not operate in inclement weather or those operating on a special oversize/overweight permit. As with many things, there is no clear or objective standard as to what is considered “inclement weather”. Unfortunately, this will be subject to the opinion of the police officer and the courts. However, even if you are cited for this, it does not void the permit and knock you back to legal weight and size. It is only a violation of permit citation.

Tire Chains A common misbelief is tire chains are illegal in Illinois. This is completely false. Reasonable size tire chains are legal on any vehicle (car or truck). The reality it is very rare to see vehicles in Illinois with tire chains. Tire chains are completely lawful as defined in the final paragraph of 625 ILCS 5/12-401:

“Nothing in this Section shall be deemed to prohibit the use of tire chains of reasonable proportion upon any vehicle when required for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to skid.”

Be careful out there this winter!

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