Alabama bill would regulate hauling of steel coils

| 2/27/2008

The Alabama House unanimously approved a bill that addresses steel coil “fall offs.”

Sponsored by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, the bill would impose stiff penalties on truck drivers and companies for spilled steel coils. The measure – HB69 – 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.

The push for steel coil legislation increased after several incidents on Birmingham-area interstates in recent years. Damage from the coil spills has averaged $200,000 to $300,000 per repair, The Birmingham News reported.

This is the second year in a row the House approved the bill dubbed as one of the nation’s toughest governing coil haulers. The 2007 version died on the last day of the regular session without coming up for a vote on the Senate floor.

In the final hours of the session, Sen. Phil Poole, D-Tuscaloosa, asked that most bills sponsored by Republicans in the House be “carried over,” effectively killing them. The move was made in response to action by Gov. Bob Riley.

The Republican governor used his line-item veto power to remove a $1 million appropriation from the state’s general fund for road projects in Tuscaloosa County.

DeMarco’s renewed effort would fine trucking companies up to $10,000 for not properly tying coils on the backs of trucks. Drivers would face up to $5,000 fines. Violators also would face up to one year in jail.

Alabama law now allows for fines up to $2,000, and 30 days in jail.

The state’s Department of Public Safety also would be required to develop and publish proper load securement training standards. In addition, areas in the state identified as being prone to coil fall offs would see stepped up enforcement efforts.

DeMarco’s bill has moved to the Senate where its future, once again, is uncertain. Poole has renewed his crusade to block passage of the legislation.

Poole said he would continue to oppose the legislation until money is restored to widen parts of state Route 216 in eastern Tuscaloosa County. The roadway has been the scene of many traffic wrecks, he said.

To view other legislative activities of interest in Alabama, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor