Alabama sets meeting on truck safety

| 12/10/2004

Alabama officials have scheduled a meeting for Dec. 20 to discuss ways to improve truck safety in the state, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Transportation told Land Line.

The meeting, which will not be open to the public, comes in the wake of several high-profile accidents that involved trucks and damaged highways. In one case, a fire that involved a tanker truck shut down a portion of Birmingham’s “Malfunction Junction” for more than a month. The fire was so intense it melted portions of one of the bridges.

According to Tony Harris, an Alabama DOT spokesman, the meeting will include officials from the state DOT – including ALDOT director Joe McInnes – as well as representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, state troopers, the Alabama Department of Revenue and the Alabama Trucking Association.

Harris said Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has “asked for the stakeholders related to highway safety and the trucking industry to get together and discuss some ways to seek some solutions to what has been for us in Alabama recently some problems. We’ve had several major accidents involving big trucks, and the governor is concerned and wants to see what the stakeholders can come up with.”

The ALDOT chief, McInnes, told The Birmingham News, “This meeting will not be a confrontational-type thing. We are not pointing fingers at anyone.”

Although Harris did not know of a specific agenda for the meeting, he said it would include various proposals to increase safety on the road. Subjects that are likely to be discussed include load securement and increased enforcement of current speed limits.

Harris said he did not think the group would consider a lower speed limit for trucks.

“Mr. McInnes has said publicly that we’re going to talk about roads, load tie downs, speeds and all issues involved with the parties concerned,” Harris said. “It’ll be a chance for them to bring any concerns to the table as well.”

– By Mark H. Reddig, associate editor