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Lawmaker wants stiffer steel coil regulations

By M.J. Ellington (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Jan. 16 a 40,000-pound steel coil rolled into Betty Collins' front yard, stopping feet from her front window.

A flatbed had overturned on Alabama 20 in Hillsboro, dumping its load.

That was the last time a steel coil hit the pavement in the Decatur area, but Collins is not the only person in North Alabama or the Birmingham area to experience what she described as numbing terror.

Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, said he hopes to change some truckers' attitudes toward properly anchoring the coils. He said he will file a bill early in the regular session that begins Monday, but first wants to consult more with state Department of Transportation and public safety officials.

The lawmaker wants additional safety training for
drivers who haul coils and fines of $2,000 for drivers and $10,000 for companies that violate the rules and cause accidents. Current fines start at $25, he said.

DeMarco is considering a requirement that the drivers of the heavy loads be certified through the Department of Public Safety before they get behind the wheel.

"Lots of problems have to do with loads that are not properly anchored," DeMarco said. "When the loads shift, the heavy chains holding the coils can break."

The result is highway damage that Alabama Department of Transportation officials say averages $200,000 or more per accident.

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