Oil Field service trucks have clogged upon the roads in South Texas and other areas in Texas and the United States where shale drilling and horizontal drilling have created a new oil and gas boom. Thousands of oil field service trucks are now found in counties where there used to be none. Fracking fluid trucks, winch trucks, service trucks, cranes, aerial lift trucks, tanker trucks, trucks hauling wide loads, trucks hauling heavy equipment and a host of other commercial vehicles now fill the roads that once never saw traffic.
The presence of these trucks has led to a variety of new problems. Roads are being destroyed by the heavy vehicles causing dangers such as edge drop-offs, pot-holes, dangerous merging conditions, and other conditions not expected by drivers. Traffic has increased in towns that have never seen anything resembling traffic. And, ultimately, all of this has led to a significant uptick in the number of accidents in communities booming from new oil and gas production.
According to the San Antonio Express, “[s]ince the beginning of the boom, accidents involving commercial vehicles have increased more than tenfold, from four crashes in 2008 to 46 crashes in 2011, according to [McMullen County] crash data compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation. Neighboring La Salle County has had a 418 percent increase in that type of crash since 2008.” (Read more Here)
It is not limited to La Salle and McMullen counties either. Karnes county has also been seriously affected. According to the Chron.com:
- In the past six months, Karnes County alone has seen 12 people die in traffic accidents, according to Jalufka. That’s 12 times the number of fatalities reported to the Texas Department of Transportation in 2008, just as oil and gas drilling started to take off. So many people were killed on Texas 239 southeast of Kenedy – five since March 1 – that it’s now known as the “death trap.” Karnes is one of more than a dozen counties inundated with traffic from the Eagle Ford Shale energy boom. In the counties most directly affected by Eagle Ford drilling, the biggest jump in fatal traffic accidents has involved commercial vehicles, according to an analysis of TxDOT numbers, increasing from six in 2008 to 24 last year.
In another article, the San Antonio Express goes on to highlight the likely increase of the threat of accidents and deaths due to the increase of oil field service truck traffic in the area involving oil and gas drilling:
- This threat will grow substantially in coming years, safety advocates warn. According to federal officials, more than 200,000 new oil and gas wells will be drilled nationwide over the next decade, including in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. And the drilling technique used at more than 90 percent of these wells, known as hydraulic fracturing leads to far more trucks on the road — roughly 500 to 1,500 truck trips per well — than traditional drilling, partly because fracturing requires millions of gallons of water per well. The jobs are hazardous, with fatality rates that are seven times the national average across all industries. Nearly a third of the 648 deaths of oil field workers from 2003 to 2008 were in highway crashes, according to the most recent data analyzed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, highway crashes caused roughly a fifth of workplace fatalities across all industries in 2010.
The reasons for this rapid increase in accidents involving commercial vehicles, traffic fatalities, and trucking accident injuries are many. As previously discussed, the increase in the number of vehicles using the same roads creates some inherent dangers. However, it does not stop there. The truckers themselves are often worked too long and too hard to drive safely. Our San Antonio trucking accident attorney have the experience to handle these complicated injury and accident cases.
Exemptions for truck drivers in the oil and gas industry, have caused many to conclude that the large percentage of oil and gas workers killed in traffic accidents are caused by fatigue or some condition associated with overworking oil and gas truck drivers. Importantly, the danger associated with fatigued drivers does not end with the potential for injury and death to the workers themselves. Thousands of private citizens share the road with these workers and deserve to be protected from the dangers of overworked and fatigued truck drivers. According to the San-Antonio Express:
- Over the past decade, more than 300 oil and gas workers such as Roth were killed in highway crashes, the largest cause of fatalities in the industry. Many of these deaths were caused partly because of oil field exemptions from highway safety rules that allow truckers to work longer hours than drivers in most other industries, according to safety and health experts. Many oil field truckers say that while these exemptions help them earn more money, they are routinely used to pressure workers into driving after shifts that are 20 hours or longer.
Further, the roadways where oil and gas production has boomed are being destroyed by the operations involved in oil and gas drilling. The number of vehicles required to drill, hydraulically fracture, complete and maintain wells is often close to one thousand. The weights of these vehicles oftentimes exceed the weight limit for the roads utilized. That type of road traffic is destroying roads used by people everyday in communities across Texas. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
- The Texas Department of Transportation told industry representatives and elected officials Monday that repairing roads damaged by drilling activity to bring them up to standard would “conservatively” cost $1 billion for farm-to-market roads and another $1 billion for local roads. And that doesn’t include the costs of maintaining interstate and state highways.
Contact an Oil Field Accident Lawyer
Hill Law Firm has first hand experience with the dangers of oil field service trucks and is here to stand up for your rights against the large oil field service trucking companies when they cause serious injuries or death to you or your loved ones. Call our office today for questions regarding your case.