Enough is enough, Marshall County Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Cecil said, in effect, this week. No doubt his announcement will be applauded by many area residents, and not just those in his county.
Traffic involved in natural gas drilling often inconveniences local motorists. Cecil contends some drilling companies and their subcontractors are not doing enough to minimize the problem.
And, of course, there is safety: Big trucks carrying machinery to and from well sites often have to use narrow country roads. That can be a concern for motorists in passenger vehicles.
As we have reported, some companies seem to work hard to be good neighbors to local residents who are hosting them. Escort cars for big-rig convoys, scheduling to keep drilling trucks off roads being used by school buses, and use of flaggers to help keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely are examples of that.
Cecil pointed out such a cooperative spirit sometimes is missing. Flaggers have been seen giving preference to gas company trucks while forcing local residents to wait, he noted. Sometimes, gas company crews don't use proper signage or traffic control procedures, he added. And Marshall County deputies frequently stop trucks for various violations.
In the past, the Marshall County sheriff's department often has handed out warnings instead of citations when dealing with violations by companies and truck drivers involved in drilling. That may be coming to an end because of what some local residents see as a failure to be considerate of them.
"When we continue to stop the same vehicles and companies for the same violations, it is time to do something else," Cecil said. That means citations, with resulting fines, may be handed out in situations that formerly called for warnings, he explained.
He is correct in that approach - as will be other area law enforcement agencies that are forced to adopt it.
Not everyone in our area has signed leases for gas drilling. Most people are happy to see the gas companies contributing to the local economy - but are not so thrilled when they have to pull off the road to avoid a collision or are late for work because of trucks heading to or coming from well sites.
If it takes a few - or a few hundred - expensive tickets handed out to gas company crews to reinforce the message about being good neighbors, so be it. Conscientious companies and their workers will not suffer, but those who need a reminder they are guests in our area will, and should.