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Edgefield County, South Carolina

July 30, 2005

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EDITORIAL

Does Ray Walker Trucking really care?

Editorial

web posted July 30, 2005

As a result of the accident on Martintown Road at Sportsman’s Corner that involved two Ray Walker Trucking transfer trailer dump trucks and a local resident, the issue of the trucking company and their drivers has become “all the talk” around the community in Merriwether.

The accident was said to be the fault of the driver of the Chevy pickup and not either driver of Ray Walker Trucking.

Did the driver of the truck that was involved in the accident perform his duty to avoid a lethal accident? Most certainly he did and he deserves accolades for his actions. However that has little effect on the reputation the drivers have in the Merriwether Community and the County of Edgefield. The Edgefield County Sheriff has acknowledged he has received complaints about the company and its drivers but traffic control is not a primary function of the Sheriff’s Department. That duty falls on the shoulders of the SC Highway Patrol and the Transportation Police.

These officers, residents say, spend their time regulating the tanker trucks hauling fuel from the tank farm on Sweetwater Road and ignore the real problem.

Aside from who was at fault in the recent accident, the community is upset because they feel they have been harassed by the truckers on a regular basis and neither the company nor the SC Highway Patrol seems to be making any effort to curtail claims of aggressive driving and excessive speeds. “I’ve told (the drivers) for three years to slow down,” one resident was quoted as saying.

Suspiciously trucks from the Ray Walker Trucking Company have been missing from the area since the wreck. “It is like they just disappeared,” one resident said today. In the past residents claim the trucks travel in groups of three or four and bully drivers who drive the speed limit. At the time of the accident Edgefield Daily.com photographed six Ray Walker Trucking trucks lined up behind the two involved in the accident. No other trucking company had drivers in the line of blocked traffic.

One resident told Edgefield Daily.com to ride down Woodlawn Road and look at the skid marks left by the trucks in curves and at driveways. We decided to do just that. Dozens of marks of skidding transfer truck tires were found along the road in curves and indeed more were found at intersecting roads and even more around subdivisions. A majority of those marks showed the trucks leaving the marks were well over the centerline of the roadway.

What can be done?

Residents can call the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the SC Highway Patrol and ask for more monitoring of the activity of the Martintown and Woodlawn Road areas. For now, it seems, Ray Walker Trucking has pulled a vast majority of the trucks out of the area. That is a good thing.

However, that is a damage control effort to keep the sight of the trucks out of the minds of residents for the time being. Assuredly they will return and with them the same problems some say.

Workers at Sportsman’s Corner, a popular stopping point of the drivers, said the few drivers that have been to the store since the accident say they will not be coming back due to coverage of the complaints reported by Edgefield Daily.com. This is interesting on two levels. One that our website is being read by those in Greenville and Anderson; and two that not a single worker at Sportsman’s Corner commented on the actions of drivers of Ray Walker Trucking in our reporting.

That attitude seems to fit the attitude residents who encounter the trucks on the roadways say they receive from the drivers. It is also evident in the encounters Edgefield Daily.com had with drivers who did not know who they were talking to.

Our state highways are for the use of companies such as Ray Walker Trucking in pursuit of their business obligations. However, using secondary roads and harassing local residents is not a function they are free to avail themselves of.

Furthermore, the arrogant and abusive attitudes of the drivers show a far deeper problem. If the majority of the residents complain that a majority of the drivers present the attitudes and reactions we have witnessed for ourselves, the drivers must be getting a “green light” from higher-up in the company to continue their activity unchecked as long as the number of loads of gravel is delivered in the shortest amount of time. Most say they have contacted Ray Walker Trucking with their complaints to no avail.

Basically we get the feeling the owners of a company based upstate could care less about the dangers they pose in our county by their refusal control the actions of those drivers who traverse our county in the course of their routes. As documented, this is not a new issue due to a near fatal accident; it is a very real issue that will, if it continues, cost the loss of human life.

Next time it may not be a single pickup with a single driver that is hit by two trucks owned by the same company traveling in opposite directions; it could be an entire family where rescue workers are forced to try to find a way to remove the mangled bodies of a family from their car after it has been destroyed beyond recognition.

From the number of complaints, and the recurring problems, we have to ask; does Ray Walker Trucking really care? Or is their own bottom line their only concern?



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