Three Tanker Truck Accidents Worthy of Notice, Local & National Problem(s)

by Duane Nichols on June 16, 2015

Another Tanker Accident, Route 52, Mercer County, WV, April 6, 2015

Charges pending in deadly Wood County work zone crash

From an Article by Shauna Johnson, WV MetroNews, June 12, 2015

Highway crews perform difficult and sometimes dangerous work on West Virginia’s roads each day, said state Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox after the death of a worker Thursday. “It’s dangerous enough, that type of work as it is, but to do it under traffic conditions, people just need to slow down and pay attention,” he said.

The Division of Highways employee died after a tanker truck started a chain-reaction crash in a work zone along Route 50 in Wood County. Randall Bland, 49, of Waverly was killed after being pinned between a van and a DOH truck. Mattox confirmed Bland was a DOH crew supervisor who had worked with the division for 12 years.

At least five other people, including several children, were hurt in the accident that happened about 2 p.m. Thursday near Route 50’s intersection with Dutch Ridge Road.

“It’s just so sad to lose someone who was only 49 years old in a work zone,” Mattox said Friday. “We do our best to try to get the public to slow down and pay attention when they enter these work zones and these tragedies can be avoided.”

Charges were pending against the truck’s driver, according to investigators with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department. No charges had been filed as of Friday morning, however. The truck was owned by Hall Drilling, LLC.

In a separate accident Thursday morning, a Randolph County man was killed along Route 219 when a DOH van struck him. The victim was identified as Earl Franklin Woods, Jr., of Valley Head. Also, recall the tanker accident on I-79 near Star City (Morgantown) on May 11th, where the fire was too hot to extinguish but the driver was thrown free of the fire.


Full details released following tanker truck crash, explosion on Route 92

From an Article by Kathlynn Stone, WVVA Multimedia Journalist, Beckley, WV, June 10, 2015

On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, at approximately 2:29 am, members of the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a tractor trailer accident on Route 92, approximately 2 miles north of the Anthony Correctional Center.

Initial investigation revealed that the tractor trailer was southbound on State Route 92 when it traveled off onto the western shoulder of the roadway. The vehicle continued to travel southwest and subsequently impacted a tree causing the truck and tractor to jackknife, blocking both the north and southbound lanes of Route 92. The impact also resulted in a fire to both the tractor and trailer. Anthony Creek Fire Department, as well as White Sulphur Springs Fire Department, responded to the scene.

The trailer was a tanker unit, however, it was empty at the time of impact. No fuel spill was determined by the Emergency Disaster Response unit.

The driver of the truck, identified as Sheridan B. Browning of Marlinton WV, received non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center for treatment.

Route 92 was closed north of the Anthony Correctional Center and south of the Pocahontas County line. The road is expected to be reopened to vehicular travel sometime Wednesday morning. Sergeant J. J. Martin is the investigating officer.


Death of Penna. man in fracking truck accident shows need for greater traffic safety measures

Submitted Column to Wilkes-Barre PA Times-Leader, January 9, 2015

From a Letter by Edward Ciarimboli, founding partner in the legal firm of Fellerman and Ciarimboli, a personal injury law firm with offices in Kingston, Scranton and Philadelphia

A fiery crash in Susquehanna County last week took the life of a 27-year-old Marine and father of two young boys. The SUV in which Staff Sgt. Andrew Stevens was driving reportedly was stopped behind two fracking trucks when a water truck smashed into the back of him.

The crash caused a chain reaction that sandwiched Stevens’ SUV between the water truck and the fracking truck in front of him, according to a published report. The SUV immediately went up in flames and Sgt. Stevens died at the scene.

An increase in natural gas fracking has led to a spike in traffic fatalities in towns that find their roadways filled with large drilling rigs and fracking trucks. Drilling activity increases too quickly for many small communities to keep pace in making changes in road safety, such as building new roads, improving or widening existing roads or installing traffic signals in areas where they might now be needed. The deadly consequences of this increased and unexpected traffic are seen in the death of Sgt. Andrews and other fatalities like this across the country.

An Associated Press analysis of traffic deaths and U.S. census data in six drilling states show that in some places fatalities have more than quadrupled since 2004, a period when most American roads have become much safer. According to the Associated Press, the hydraulic-fracturing process also requires 2,300 to 4,000 truck trips per well to deliver needed fluids, while older drilling techniques needed many fewer trips.

Texas, a state that has been in the midst of a multi-year fracking boom, has seen traffic deaths climb as a result. The Texas Department of Transportation reported that fatal crashes on Texas highways increased 50 percent from 2009 through 2013. This increase in fatalities came after decades of declines in Texas, just as the boom in fracking operations was beginning. Texas led the nation in traffic fatalities in 2012.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s 2012 Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows that Pennsylvania is in the top five states in fatal crashes, with 1,211, following only Texas with 3,021, California with 2,632, Florida with 2,247 and North Carolina with 1,222. These five states accounted for more than a third of the fatal crashes in the entire country.

The Associated Press reported that traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania drilling counties rose 4 percent from 2009 to 2013, while in the rest of the state they fell 19 percent.

While safer vehicles and highways are helping to improve traffic safety, we need to help decrease the number of accidents near fracking sites. Pennsylvania and other states need to work to improve safety in fracking towns by widening and improving roads and enforcing traffic laws. Although federal rules limit the amount of time most truckers can drive, the rules are less strict for drivers in the oil and gas industry. These laws need to be improved and enforced.

We need to do all we can do to prevent tragedies like the death of Sgt. Andrew Stevens and others who have fallen victim to fracking truck accidents.

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