An Alabama House panel approved a bill to address the problem with steel coil “fall-offs” in the state.
The push for steel coil legislation has 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.
Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, said special attention to the issue is warranted because Birmingham is a major artery through the southeast with a lot of through traffic.
“We want commerce, but we want to make sure it’s hauled safely so the motoring public and truck drivers are safe on the road,” DeMarco told Land Line Now on Sirius XM Radio.
The House Public Safety Committee voted to advance to the full House a bill – HB67 – that would impose stiff penalties on truck drivers and companies for spilled steel coils. Trucking companies would be required to certify that haulers know how to load steel coils properly.
Rick Craig, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said assurances must be in place that steel haulers understand how to carry out proper cargo securement.
“The problem is that drivers are not being properly trained. Certainly, motor carriers should be getting fined if they are not training the drivers how to secure the cargo,” Craig told Land Line.
This marks the third straight year the bill dubbed as one of the nation’s toughest governing coil haulers has been offered at the Alabama statehouse. The House approved the bill the past two sessions only to see it not come up for a vote on the Senate floor.
DeMarco blamed political wrangling for the previous failures.
If the bill is signed into law, trucking companies would face fines 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 the possibility of 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.
DeMarco said the fees or costs of training would be determined by the department.
If the bill clears the House, it would move to the Senate for further consideration.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2009, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.
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