After hearing complaints about truck drivers in the oil-and-gas exploration boom in the Tuscarawas Valley region, state troopers are stepping up enforcement efforts and taking a proactive approach.
About six weeks ago, the New Philadelphia post of the Ohio Highway Patrol began receiving an average of one or two complaints weekly from Carroll County residents, according to Lt. Eric Escola.
Escola said his officers have been seeing an increase in crashes involving trucks. The trucks are tractor-trailer rigs or straight trucks in most cases. However, those statistics don’t track the number of injury accidents or whether the trucks are associated with the oil-and-gas exploration industry.
Escola said no one has died in these crashes, nor were any injuries life-threatening. From Jan. 1 through April 30, troopers handled 61 crashes in Carroll County. Fourteen of those involved trucks, with the trucker at fault in nine.
For the same period in 2011, troopers handled 43 crashes. Seven involved trucks, with five truckers at fault. That’s an increase in crashes year-over-year of about 42 percent.
Complaints about truckers involve several state routes — mostly state Routes 43 and 164 — but also county and township roads used to access well sites.
Escola said some drivers claimed truckers forced them off the road, which is a concern because several routes have narrow berms with little space to avoid a crash. There are steep embankments on the sides of many routes.
A few complaints involved trucks in a caravan running stop signs or traffic lights.
“Callers said that if the first trucks went through a green light, the other three or four follow — even after the light turns red,” he said.
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