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Tollway speeders - even troopers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Emergency Services Vehicles Topics:  Interstate Highway System

Tollway speeders - even troopers

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 12, 2009

Today was a rare day that I ventured out of my way to drive on the Illinois Tollway from Huntley to the east. Normally, my thoughts are, "Why should I risk my life and have to pay for the privilege of doing so?"

As soon as I entered I-90 from Highway 47, I was aware of traffic traveling above the posted 65MPH speed limit. It wasn't too bad, though; drivers seemed to be only about 10-over.

But then I got to Randall Road, where the speed limit drops. The Tollway might as well have saved its money and skipped putting up the 55MPH sign. Well, they did save a little money, because they only put a speed limit sign on the right shoulder. On the inside shoulder, too, might have been nice.

And then it started to get really crazy at the Highway 31 toll plaza and the Highway 31 interchange. As I drove under that beautiful $15,000 sign which used to have Blago's name on it (now, how is it that the Tollway was ready to install new signs the day after he was kicked out of office?), traffic was tearing past me in the 55MPH zone.

By the time I got to Highway 25 I was dialing the State Police to report speeders. It doesn't do any good, since they don't seem to have any troopers on the road to write tickets, but I do my small part and call, anyway. Maybe, if enough drivers call often to complain, the State Police will actually put the squeeze on enough speeders to get the outrageous speeding under control.

And, while I was talking to a Master Sergeant who answered for the District Commander, an unmarked State trooper blew by in the inside lane, running about 70 in the 55 zone. Not chasing anyone, mind you. Just driving down the road, heading east.

When I mentioned to the Master Sergeant that the trooper was hogging the left lane, she explained that law enforcement isn't bound by the new law that says you need to stay out of the left lane. I looked up the law, and she was right! But should a trooper, just driving on the highway (speeding, at that), be allowed to violate a law that the rest of us are supposed to observe?

If he is "performing his duties" (pursuing a speeder, catching up to pace a speeder, etc.), yes, sure, fine; hog the left lane and speed. Of course, there was no one on his bumper, trying to pass him. But I've seen that before. (When that happens in Virginia, the trooper determines the speed of the violator behind him and then pulls him over!)

I happen to be a stickler on traffic laws and believe that troopers (and deputies and police officers) should obey all traffic laws when they are not using emergency lights and siren. And even then, they must obey traffic laws (although they are permitted to (safely) exceed speed limits and stop signs and red lights); "safely" is the keyword here.

But when a trooper is heading down the road to a car with a flat tire or going for lunch or coffee, then he must obey the posted speed limit. The State Police Director apparently doesn't require this. I have inquired several times and have never received a reply from him. Troopers routinely shorten their response times by speeding, and that is not okay with me.

If I wish to shorten my response (commuting) time by speeding, that will one day be a costly choice. It should be the same for troopers.

But what cop is going to write another cop a ticket? Is one trooper going to write another trooper a speeding ticket? Is a trooper going to write a speeding ticket to a Cook County deputy? Or to a local cop? I doubt it.

One day, if and when police officers, deputies and troopers begin obeying all speed limits, then the public might just begin slowing down. What if a trooper drove at the posted speed limit on the Tollway? If a driver started to pass him, a short "whooop!" on the siren ought to bring immediate slowing. If it doesn't? Why, just write out an invitation for him to have a visit with a judge!

That'll be the day!

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