Alabama bills tackle issue of steel coil ‘fall-offs’

| 5/2/2007

Several bills of interest to the trucking industry have been offered in the Alabama Legislature. Those efforts include legislation that address steel coil “fall-offs.”

The House unanimously approved a bill that would impose stiff penalties on truck drivers and companies for spilled steel coils. The measure – HB541 – also would require trucking companies to certify that haulers know how to load steel coils properly.

Supporters say stricter rules are needed because of continuing problems in the state with steel coils coming dislodged from the backs of flatbed trucks.

Since 1987, nearly 30 trucks have lost loads of steel coils on Birmingham-area interstates. Half of the spills in Birmingham have occurred since March 2004, The Birmingham News reported.

Damage from the coil spills has averaged $200,000 to $300,000 per repair.

Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, has dubbed the bill “one of the toughest in the nation” governing coil haulers. It would allow troopers to arrest coil haulers who violate the proposed rules, whether the spill was witnessed or not. In addition to jail time, truckers would face up to $5,000 fines while companies would face up to $10,000 fines.

DeMarco said the bill that has been forwarded to the House is about safety.

“This bill encourages the good drivers and punishes an individual for not following the safety regulations,” he told The News.

DeMarco’s bill isn’t the only legislative effort intended to help prevent coil spills.

With an eye on coil haulers, Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, offered a bill that would mandate the construction of truck weigh stations. The bill – HB504 – however, didn’t clear a committee.

Rogers said the weigh stations would do more to increase safety on roadways than higher fines.

Another bill offered by Rogers would authorize the Department of Public Safety to adopt rules to secure steel coils on trucks. In the meantime, it would require coils to be placed in concave cradles or secured by other methods.

The bill – HB624 – is in the House Public Safety Committee.