Alabama judge seeks fines, jail time in steel coil crackdown

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An Alabama judge says he’s tired of dealing with steel coils falling off 18-wheelers. Jefferson County District Judge Shelly Watkins says he will impose the maximum penalties for truck drivers ticketed for having improperly loaded steel coils, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Watkins says all drivers ticketed for improperly loaded coils must appear in his court, and drivers found guilty will be fined $2,000 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Watkins told the Birmingham News that something must be done before a motorist is killed.

Since 1987, 26 flatbed trucks have dropped steel coils on Birmingham-area interstates, injuring one woman and causing millions of dollars in damage to the highways, the News reported. Damages have averaged between $200,000 and $300,000 per repair; state Transportation officials document every expense and seek reimbursement from the trucking company or the hauler’s insurance company.

The most recent spill happened the morning of Monday, Feb. 19, on Interstate 20/59, forcing troopers and police to close the eastbound lanes until mid-afternoon. No one was hurt.