Car drivers are responsible two-thirds of the time for collisions in West Virginia involving heavy-duty coal trucks, according to the West Virginia Natural Resources Transportation Association, an advocacy group for coal truckers, as reported by the Charleston Gazette.
The state Department of Transportation reports 50,890 vehicles crashed on West Virginia roads during 2001. Of them, 2,518 involved vehicles hauling trailers weighing more than 8,000 pounds. And 91 of those crashes involved a coal truck. Of the 91 crashes, 16 were single-vehicle accidents involving only one coal truck. The other 75 involved other vehicles.
In 48 of these 75 accidents (64 percent), police officers cited the passenger vehicle for being at fault. In 27 accidents (36 percent), officers cited the coal truck driver for being at fault. In 2001, two accidents and two fatalities involved coal trucks.
Under pressure from the coal industry and from safety groups, DOT officials are considering whether to raise the weight limit for coal trucks in West Virginia.