Coal trucks feel new law�s bite

WEST VIRGINIA’S new law for load weights has caused an increase in coal truck citations but is also increasing the public’s safety, according to the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC).

Donna Schmidt

The transportation division of the PSC said in its annual report the enforcement of a 2003 regulation has lead to a five-fold increase of coal truck citations this year over 2004.

 

The PCS’s report, which was delivered to the West Virginia Motor Vehicle and Safety Advisory Committee last week, outlined 714 citations to more than 100 coal transportation and trucking companies. The total number of coal and non-coal violations reported was 1700 and fines totaled about $US420,000.

 

The law, which significantly affects trucks carrying a load in excess of 100,000 pounds, has been more easily enforced through the information age.

 

“They can’t hide from the electronic system,” PSC weight enforcement director Charles Covert told The Charleston Gazette. “2004 was pretty much a year of development; 2005 was an enforcement year. The system isn’t perfect, but we’re making progress.”

 

This year’s biggest offender was Peachtree Ridge Mining, who’s tab for 51 citations due to overweight loads was $US23,000. By comparison, some fines last year were as little as $US20.

 

While citations are on the rise, Covert told The Charleston Gazette, most involved in the transportation of coal in West Virginia are following the law. “We’re not perceived out there as heavy-handed regulators. We’re recognised as people trying to help the industry comply with the law.

 

“The good news is that the coal industry is cooperating.”

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