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Alabama Trucking Safety Measure Challenged by Trucking Association

A 2009 Alabama safety measure enacted by the Legislature, after a series of accidents involving huge metal coils coming off tractor-trailer loads onto highways and streets, is under attack by the Alabama Trucking Association, which appears to have won the first round. The ATA filed a Petition for Determination of Pre-Emption before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, claiming there was insufficient support for the safety benefits of the legislation.

The FMCSA granted the petition, effective April 4, 2013, declaring Alabama’s Metal Coil Securement Act of 2009 pre-empted. This Act prohibits a motor carrier from transporting metal coils in a movement that originates or terminates in Alabama unless the driver is certified in load securement. Arguments in favor of the Act were based on insufficiency of Federal enforcement of training requirements, the point that cargo load securement is a leading cause of crashes, and that there have not been any metal coil spills in Alabama since enactment. The ATA and others contended it imposed costs on motor carriers and metal coil industries, is simply an administrative requirement without safety benefits, and safety risks other than improper load securement (such as excessive speed) were contributing factors to the coil spills that had occurred. The FMCSA agreed with the arguments seeking pre-emption, and entered a decision prohibiting the State of Alabama from enforcing the Act on interstate motor carriers. However, further proceedings on this issue are possible.

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