Semi Trucks and Big Rigs: High Indiana and Illinois Commercial Truck Traffic Creates Dangerous Conditions

Semi Trucks and Big Rigs: High Indiana and Illinois Commercial Truck Traffic Creates Dangerous Conditions

Here in Indiana and Illinois, the danger of a serious motor vehicle accident involving a commercial truck (i.e., a semi truck; big rig; 18 wheeler; tractor trailer; etc.) can be considered higher than the risk faced by those who live in other parts of the country. That’s not just the opinion of Hoosiers who drive along the Borman Expressway — it’s a documented problem for our part of the country.

Indiana and Illinois are part of a huge trucking corridor, where trucks moving north to south as well as east to west, delivering cargo, travel on our interstates and freeways alongside our sedans, SUVs, minivans, and pick-ups, which are no match for these heavy and huge commercial vehicles in even a minor collision at a slow rate of speed.

It doesn’t matter where you look, these big trucks are going to be there.  Truckers, for instance, are known to choose driving Interstate 39 in Illinois in order to avoid the heavier traffic in Chicago. That just makes driving I-39 more dangerous for everyone

Indiana Semi Truck Traffic

Just a few months ago, a local television station reported on a ride-along with the Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Division. One shocking fact revealed in their coverage: Indiana State Troopers opine that they are finding 1 in 8 commercial trucks on Indiana highways to be dangerous and have to be taken out of service.

And these are the semi trucks that the troopers discover in their monitoring of our roads — it’s not the complete tally.

Read more in the article written by Katie Solove and published February 8, 2016, by, entitled, “Heavy duty hazards: Dangerous semis put Indiana drivers at risk.”

Indiana freeways are filled with big rig semi-truck traffic. See, for example our past post “Dangers of Commercial Truck Traffic and Operation Truck Stop,” documenting the semi truck crash dangers faced by Hoosiers in a single week along one stretch of US 20 here in Indiana.

There’s no end in sight for Indiana, either: the Indiana Department of Transportation considers the state to be a “logistics state” where its location in the middle of the country right below the Great Lakes situates Indiana at “the crossroads of the nation for freight movements” which are expected to see a “dramatic tonnage growth of nearly 60%” with almost 1.11 BILLION tons of freight being moved through Indiana by 2020.

That’s a lot of semi trucks, isn’t it, to help move 1.11 BILLION tons of freight across the State of Indiana?

Illinois Semi Truck Traffic

And Illinois shares this big rig semi-truck traffic danger with Indiana. Check out the Federal Highway Administration’s forecast map of major truck flows through Indiana and Illinois and you will see that it’s like no other part of the nation.

We are indeed the beating heart of the trucking industry in the United States. See, “Major Flows by Truck To, From, and Within Indiana: 2007, 2010 and 2040,” provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

Will County, Illinois, is especially concerned with the dangers of commercial truck traffic sharing the roads with other vehicles. They have created a campaign to try and fight against the dangers of big rig semi truck traffic as the “Will County Coalition For The People.” From their site:

The unplanned, overdevelopment of intermodal facilities and warehouses in Will County is threatening our quality of life. We are growing too fast without a long-term vision that protects our residents and delivers promised benefits. As a community, we cannot safely handle the development we have today. With more development in the works, our problems have compounded and reached a dangerous tipping point. We must take action.

We, the Will County community, are paying and will continue to pay for the social, environmental and financial costs of unbridled intermodal and warehousing growth. We must fix today’s problems before it’s too late.

Why is Will County so involved in the fight against commercial truck crashes? In less than 24 months, this one county in the State of Illinois has seen over 20 deaths in big rig semi truck crashes. It’s reported that in the year 2014, Will County, Illinois, saw 909 truck-related accidents and 156 truck-related injuries. Only Cook County had higher truck crash statistics.

What’s happening there? In this single county, there are a huge number of warehouses as well as intermodal facilities — places where these big rig semi trucks must convene as the truckers move across the country with their cargo. The Coalition reports that each year, over 8,000 heavy trucks and nearly 1,000,000 freight containers move through the Elwood intermodal facility alone.

As a result, Will County sees an amazingly huge number of heavy commercial trucks on its roadways. As one grandmother who lost her 8 year old granddaughter, Madison Frost, in a semi truck crash on Route 53 in Will County explains:

“Families and neighbors are the ones paying the ultimate price when: truckers run red lights and cut us off; speed, tailgate and slam on the brakes; crash through railroad crossing safety gates; ignore signs and drive in our neighborhoods; disregard weight limits and vehicle safety regulations; and disobey law enforcement. We deserve to drive on safe streets without fear that any trip might be our last. I won’t let Madison’s death be in vain. Our lives have been forever changed. We’re fighting to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Last month, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced that a state, local, and private partnership would be working together to build a new bridge on Houbolt Road that will connect Interstate 80 with Will County’s intermodal facilities.

According to Governor Rauner, Will County is the nation’s largest inland port, calling the region “the freight hub of North America” — and the new Houbolt Road Bridge designed to help move the big rig semi truck traffic off Will County’s local roadways and make things safer for everyone.

What happens in the meantime? Will County traffic dangers because of heavy commercial truck traffic will remain.  As will the risk of a serious if not fatal truck crashes on other highways and interstates in Indiana and Illinois. Let’s be careful out there!

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