Alabama Senate OKs bill to regulate hauling of steel coils

| 3/10/2009

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill to address the problem with steel coil “fall-offs” in the state. It now moves to the House.

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.

Supporters say 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,” Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, told Land Line Now on XM Radio.

The Senate voted 27-0 to advance to the House a bill – SB136 – 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, the bill’s House sponsor, blamed political wrangling for the previous failures.

The chief squabbler has been Sen. Phil Poole, D-Tuscaloosa. He has taken it upon himself to block passage of the bill the past couple of years.

This time around, when Poole was not on the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, brought up the bill out of order and the Senate approved it, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The vote cleared the way for the bill to advance to the House for further consideration.

If 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. The fees or costs of training would be determined by the department.

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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