Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
How Do Oil Fields Relate to Highway Accidents?
The oil boom going on in Texas has generated many benefits to the state, including a bolstered economy and thousands of new jobs as more oil workers are needed every day to handle all the activity.
The downside of this boom is workplace accidents, of which the oil and gas industry has an exceptionally high number.
Interestingly, of all oil and gas workplace accidents that cause injuries and fatalities, truck accidents are responsible for the highest percentage.
Attorneys who handle truck crash accidents in Texas are dealing with the same uptick in activity, though this is unfortunately due to the alarming increase in vehicle accidents related to oilfield work.
As Oil and Gas Grows, So Do Crashes
Over the past decade or so, the state of Texas has been buzzing with new activity in the oil and gas industry as new deposits and new technology has caused a production boom.
As great as this all is for the state and the country, it’s had one major negative: the number of truck accidents now happening in the state.
While the rest of the nation has seen slowly declining truck crash numbers, the numbers in Texas have steadily increased in correlation with oilfield activity.
Crash and workplace accident statistics indicate that between 2009 and 2013, total highway crashes increased in Texas by 8% and fatalities involving commercial trucks increased by 53%.1
A more recent report indicates that there was an 11.5% increase in the number of heavy rigs on Permian-area highways in just the past year and a 17% increase in traffic accidents within that area.1
The highest concentration of crashes has happened in the counties experiencing the most oilfield activity.
Oilfield Work Related to Many More Truck Accidents
Studies on the topic indicate that truck crashes are the most prevalent cause of injury or death of oilfield workers in Texas today for a number of reasons:
More Truck Traffic - The significant increase in activity in the oilfields has led to greater tanker activity on both large and small roads these days. More trucks are traveling smaller and less maintained roads through smaller towns as well, adding to the risk.
More Safety Violations - The need for more tankers has unfortunately caused more drivers to take to the highways in trucks with serious safety violations, increasing the risk of an accident even more.
Increased Driver Fatigue - Another substantial cause of oilfield-related accidents that trucking accident attorneys see is simply driver fatigue. It’s not uncommon for tanker drivers to put in more hours than what they are legally permitted without the required rest breaks. There is also a high incidence of pickup truck wrecks involving oilfield workers as these employees are frequently driving fatigued after putting in shifts as long as 16 to 20 hours.
What Can Be Done About It?
As amazing as this oil boom has been for Texas as a whole, the effect it has had on oilfield-related workplace accidents and the incidence of truck accidents has been startling.
Based on the reasons why these accidents are happening, personal injury attorneys agree that reducing them requires trucking and energy companies to pay more attention to vehicle safety, driver HoS, and ensuring employees and drivers are not fatigued before they get behind the wheel.
Stronger safety regulations must be established and upheld to make the biggest difference!
1Energent Group: Permian Traffic Accidents Up 17% in 2018, April 16, 2018