Use more caution on the roads

The statistics in energy field areas regarding motor vehicle accidents are sobering.

Study after study has shown increases in states, including West Virginia, where more trucking and moving of major equipment occurs in support of energy drilling, pipelines and construction. Drilling states have experienced a fourfold increase in fatalities since 2004, according to one survey. Hardly a week goes by without stories or photos of some big truck accident on some back road or expressway in the region.

It’s easy to demonize the drivers of the rigs and the pickup-truck loads of workers, but our area is a couple of years into the energy boom now and every driver here should be more aware of the dangers.

Yes, drilling and support trucks are big. Yes, sometimes their drivers are younger people. Yes, often they’re driven by people unfamiliar with the area in which they’re driving.

But local drivers are familiar with the local roads.

Instead of raging at the increased traffic, how about driving in such a way that is defensive and assumes we will see more traffic in places where recently there wasn’t much.

How about being sure on two-lane roads to try to stay on the right side of the yellow line, drive as if a vehicle might just be coming the other way over the centerline on that next sharp curve, and giving trucks the room to maneuver?

The industry can and should police its own drivers, but it’s up to the rest of us to stay safe behind the wheel, energy boom or not, just as it’s always been.