Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Jan 23, 2015 in Truck Accidents
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial drilling practices which is causing protests around the country for a variety of reasons, many of which revolve around the impact that this oil procurement method has on the environment.
While people against fracking usually focus on its environmental effects, such as ground water contamination, air and surface pollution, and even earthquakes, one consequence of increased drilling activity may be surprising: In areas where fracking is prevalent, auto accident fatalities have skyrocketed.
Fracking Areas Reversing National Accident Trends
Deaths while driving have dropped steadily around the country for the past sixty years. Innovations in safety, including seatbelts, airbags, and the introduction of back-up cameras means that our nations drivers are safer now than they have ever been.
However, in states like Texas, this trend has been reversed. With the areas boom in oil drilling and fracking, Texas motor fatalities are rapidly increasing, and the state now leads the nation in highway deaths.
Crashes linked to commercial vehicles in Texas have risen 51% from 2009 to 2013. Counties in West Texas associated with the Permian Basin have also seen their motor vehicle fatalities raise by over 50%.
How is Fracking Related to Auto Accidents?
When fracking technology opened up parts of the country to a new rush for oil and natural gas production, the supply of experienced oil and gas workers could not meet up with the demand.
As a result, many companies have used drivers for transporting supplies to and from their rigs who are not experienced in handling heavy equipment or large trucks.
Recently the Texas Department of Public Safety created a troubleshooting program called Road Check, which has found that 27-30 percent of the commercial trucks shouldn't be on the road at all, due to problems like defective brakes, bald tires, broken lights, and unqualified or intoxicated drivers.
State officials are attempting to mandate tougher standards for oil and gas truckers, and have implemented some safety measures like decreasing the speed limits on heavily trafficked roads. While federal laws heavily regulate the standards for long-haul truck drivers, the rules are not nearly as stringent for drivers in the oil and gas industry.
In addition to negligent driving by truckers, smaller cars and everyday motorists are often responsible for truck accidents as well. Many accident investigators in heavy drilling counties have found that drivers get impatient waiting for large trucks, and often make dangerous driving decisions, like passing on hills or curves.
Don't Become a Statistic
If you live in an area with increased truck traffic due to fracking or drilling, stay aware of the additional hazards these vehicles carry on the roadway. Maintain a safe distance from large trucks, and only pass when it is safe to do so.
No matter how vigilant you are, however, accidents can and do occur. If you or your loved one is injured in an accident, contact the attorneys at Stephens, Anderson & Cummings. Our personal injury lawyers understand the complicated legal process of holding a trucking company responsible for the negligent actions of its employees, and will help your family get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.