A new ruling on commercial vehicles from the Alabama Department of Transporation could open the door for annual vehicle inspections, according to a local farmer.

When Darrel Haynes, president of the Cullman County Cattlemen's Association, received official notification he had until July 1 to get U.S. DOT numbers for some of his vehicles, he said the idea did not bother him much.

"I'm proud of what I do. A lot of our farm trucks already have signs on them anyway, so DOT numbers aren't a big deal," he said.

What did bother Haynes is the suspicion the new rule could be a forerunner for required vehicle inspections.

"I want vehicles on the road to be safe," he said. "But for a lot of old farm vehicles, it would cost more than they're worth to bring them up to code."

Haynes said he did not see any reason, other than inspections, for requiring DOT numbers. He also said most of the vehicles are seldom driven on the road.

"These aren't trucks that we would just hop in and drive to town," he said. "They say they need a record of every vehicle, but goodness gracious, they already have one. We all have special tags for trucks that big."

Other problems with the ruling, according to Haynes, include the cost of the numbers and placement on the vehicles.

"They say it's free of charge, but they don't pay for numbering them," he said. "And for part-time farmers, they probably don't want numbers on the sides of their trucks when they drive around town," he said.

According to the notification, all vehicles used commercially with combined truck-trailer weight of 10,000 pounds or more must have DOT numbers and the company name posted before July 1.

While previously, farm trucks and equipment were exempt from DOT requirements, this removes the exemption. It also removes an exemption for commercial vehicles that do not operate out of state.

The ruling also requires DOT numbers for commercial vehicles designed to transport eight passengers or more and vehicles used to transport hazardous materials.

The notification lists a telephone number to call for questions. Haynes said he made three unsuccessful attempts.

The Times was unable to reach a DOT representative.

For more information call (334) 242-4395.

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