MOTOR CARRIER (PREEMPTION) / FMCSA Grants Order Determining that Alabama Metal Coil Securement Act is Federally Preempted.

March 5, 2013., Order; Grant Of Petition For Determination Of Preemption.

“FMCSA grants a petition submitted by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) requesting a determination that the State of Alabama’s Metal Coil Securement Act (the Act) is preempted by Federal law. Federal law provides for preemption of State commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety laws that are more stringent than Federal regulations and (1) Have no safety benefit; (2) are incompatible with Federal regulations; or (3) would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. FMCSA has determined that there is insufficient support for the claimed safety benefits and that the Act places an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

“On June 26, 2009, FMCSA sent a letter to then-Governor Bob Riley of Alabama stating that the Act appeared to be incompatible with the requirements of FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. FMCSA also drew attention to two Federal laws authorizing preemption of State legislation (49 U.S.C. 14506 and 31141) and indicated that they might be applicable. The Agency urged State officials to work together with FMCSA officials to resolve any conflict between State and Federal law. Governor Riley responded on August 26, 2009, explaining that the Act was adopted in response to a number of accidents in Alabama involving the transport of metal coils. Governor Riley took the position that Alabama’s metal coil load securement certification requirements were not preempted by Federal law.

“On December 22, 2010, ATA petitioned FMCSA for a determination that Alabama’s metal coil load securement certification requirements and penalties create an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce and are preempted under 49 U.S.C. 31141. ATA contended that Alabama’s requirement that drivers obtain certification in metal coil load securement is more stringent than and incompatible with Federal metal coil safety regulations.

In its December 22, 2010 letter, ATA also requested a determination that the requirement that the driver carry the certification and display it upon demand is preempted by 49 U.S.C. 14506. The recent amendment to the Act, however, removed this requirement, rendering this aspect of ATA’s request moot.

“By letter dated January 25, 2011, the ADPS responded to ATA’s petition. ADPS acknowledged that the requirements of the Act are more stringent than Federal regulations, but stated that the requirements should not be preempted because they have safety benefits and do not place an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.”