OKLAHOMA CITY – First, let me say I’m thankful for the boom in our economy brought by the recent increased activity in The STACK oil play near Kingfisher. I appreciate the increased sales and income tax this is creating. I’m thankful for what this will mean to our local, county and state economy and the resulting benefits to the people in my district.
That said, there have been eight fatality accidents recently involving commercial motor vehicles: three in Kingfisher County, two in Blaine County and three in Canadian County. Investigations are still open on many of these. Whether these were caused by drivers who just are unfamiliar with our roads, by aggressive or inattentive driving or overweight trucks remains to be seen. Whatever the cause, I cannot and will not stand for the lives of our residents being put in danger.
In addition, this increased traffic and the weight in these larger trucks is putting a toll on our city, county and state roads and bridges. I’m concerned about the cost to our municipal and county budgets. With budgets being strained the past few years, we need to do all we can to protect our local and state dollars.
To address my concerns and those expressed to me by my constituents, I met recently with Capt. Brad Shepherd, Commander of Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and Troop J. I’ve also met with local police and our county sheriffs. Their job is to protect the public from aggressive or inattentive drivers as well as to protect our roads and bridges from overweight trucks. They’re doing a good job. Capt. Shepherd showed me a list of responses the OHP is taking to address the increased traffic.
These include an education-through-enforcement campaign in which commercial motor vehicle drivers are contacted by the OHP on traffic violations, which leads to offering up education programs to the company for which they work. The drivers are educated on state statute if vehicles are overweight or if drivers exhibit aggression or other behaviors likely to cause accidents. These safety education programs also are offered to local community civic groups in which talks are held to discuss defensive driving practices for local residents. The OHP also has adjusted manpower to peak traffic hours and moved other troops into the area to assist in this matter. I’m thankful for these efforts, and I’ve told all law enforcement that I’ve got their backs as they pursue these efforts.
I appreciate all of the calls and emails I’ve received on this and other issues. I would encourage those who have not yet reached out to me directly but have voiced a public outcry to try a phone call or an email to my office. We can accomplish quite a bit if we can first communicate.