News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


State starting to show muscle on interstates

A year ago, seeing a state trooper car on Interstate 65 between Mobile and Elkmont was rare.

Behemoth trucks pulling tandem trailers rolled down the road unimpeded, making Alabama a state where drivers made up lost time. As a consequence, they speeded. As a consequence, they toppled like ducks in a shooting gallery.

Truckers were not alone in making raceways of the state's highways. Pickups, sport utility vans, compacts and full-sized sedans blew by any motorist going the speed limit.

Then, Gov. Bob Riley called a high-level meeting in December to discuss the highway slaughter. One of the results of that meeting was the recent mass inspection that took place at the popular rest area north of Tuscaloosa on I-65/59.

Some 20 state troopers, transportation employees and volunteers of the Alabama Trucking Association inspected 218 trucks during a four-hour period.

Ten trucks failed inspection, and authorities arrested a driver for drinking and driving.

Today, motorists traveling the length of the state on I-65 are likely to see trooper cars either parked among the trees in the median or troopers writing a ticket for a speeding driver.

Speeds are slowing. Once word gets out across the nation that Alabama plans eight more truck inspections with ATA's help, truckers will pay even more attention.

At the time of the December meeting, ATA President Frank Filgo said his group would not oppose use of cameras to catch speeders.

That legislation is mired in the Legislature for a myriad of reasons, none of which outweighs the need to slow speeders. The 46 troopers who finished schooling in November and the 100 additional ones Public Safety Commissioner Mike Coppage hopes to hire each year won't be enough to get the job done alone.

Sometimes it takes years to get a plan into action, but this is one the governor started late last year and it is already having positive effect.

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