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Drivers, Public Service Commission React to Oil and Gas Trucks in West Virginia

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CLARKSBURG -

Evidence of the natural gas industry is all over West Virginia roads.

"Trucks driving up and down the road all the time," said Frank D'Amico, a former oilfield worker.

While some people think more trucks mean more money, boosting the local economy, others believe more trucks mean more wrecks.

"I've been run off of the road twice," D'Amico said.

A filled water tanker truck weighs nearly 15 times a typical sedan, according to the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

The PSC operates weighing facilities around the state. Matthew Epling said weight is very important for safety.

"It could affect anything from how the truck handles, to their suspension and frame, to breaking distance," said Matthew Epling, enforcement officer for the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

Frank D'Amico's friend was in a nasty accident with an oil and gas truck.

"A real good friend of mine. He was sitting on Route 50 on top of Bridgeport Hill at a red light and got hit by one of those water trucks from behind," D'Amico said.

It happened two years ago. His friend is still recovering.

An accident in Clarksburg on March 9, 2013 took the lives of two children when a truck overturned on the sedan they were traveling in.

But the PSC said fatalities are not as frequent as some may think.

"The number of fatal crashes is on a downward trend over the last five years," Epling said.

The PSC has an entire team dedicated just to oil and gas vehicles.

"We're out there making sure those trucks and drivers are in safe operating condition," Epling said.

Officers go over thousands of trucks every year. Inspectors look at breaks, lights and cargo weights.

Truckers also have to show their certifications and log books.

But some drivers think the guys in the big trucks need some additional training.

"Being drive for many years, and experience and everything. Yeah it's hard to keep those big trucks, around sharp turns on side of your roads. But when it comes to curves that's not real sharp, they've still got the truck in the middle of the road. It's tough driving. Take 'em on crooked roads and see if they know how to drive on crooked roads," D'Amico said.