Rise In Fracking And Oil Drilling May Be Causing Increase In Texas Truck Accidents

Truck Accidents Are On The Rise And If You Find Yourself a Victim of Someone's Negligence Call 1800 Truck Wreck

DALLAS, TX / ACCESSWIRE / September 13, 2016 / Despite the decrease in overall motor vehicle accidents throughout the U.S., statistics show that Texas leads all states in yearly crashes.

And while there are many factors that contribute to Texas' ranking at the top, one of the most overlooked factors may be related to the increase in oil drilling and fracking - the process of extracting oil or gas from solid rock - that's swept through the state over the past decade.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the number of motor vehicle fatalities in Texas increased by eight percent from 2009 to 2013. In 2009, there were 3,122 deaths that resulted from traffic accidents, and by 2013, that number had climbed to 3,378.

In 2014, there were 3,536 car accidents that ended in a fatality, and in 2015 that number decreased slightly to 3,531 deaths.

The figures are even more startling for commercial vehicles, which are defined as large trucks, charter buses, dump trucks, garbage trucks, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers.

In 2009, there were 352 fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles. Four years later, that number increased to 532, a 50 percent rise in fatalities.

While common factors such as driving under the influence, driver distraction, and excessive speeding were cited as primary causes in some of these commercial accidents that does not explain the increase in the number of accidents over the past few years.

But the rise in offshore oil drilling and fracking has created the need for thousands of new commercial vehicle drivers, and it's possible that the increase in commercial vehicles has contributed to the increase in the number of accidents.

Relevant Statistics:

The numbers alone can't reveal whether the increase in commercial accidents is directly related to the boom in fracking and offshore oil drilling, but what the numbers do show is that motor vehicle deaths were higher in the Permian Basin, where the roads are often filled with tanker trucks, tractor-trailers, and commercial water tankers.

Texas Department of Transportation records show that traffic deaths in the Permian Basin counties in West Texas increased by 50 percent from 2009 to 2013.

Furthermore, Midland County had a nearly 50 percent increase in motor vehicle fatalities, and Harris County deaths increased by eight percent.

These are all regions of Texas that have experienced a heavy influx of large commercial vehicles - especially oil tankers and 18-wheelers - because of the spike in oil drilling and fracking.

And as more commercial vehicles hit the highways, the percentage of these vehicles that are operating with proper maintenance is likely to decrease, because of the sheer number of motor carriers that are now in business.

For example, the Texas Department of Public Safety annually conducts a safety program known as Road Check, which is designed to inspect commercial trucks for compliance.

In a recent Road Check, the department reported that as many as 30 percent of commercial vehicles operating in Texas had deficient brakes, unsafe tires, defective safety lights, and most troubling, drivers who were not qualified to operate a commercial vehicle.

Furthermore, commercial trucks in Texas are more likely to be non-compliant with federal and state safety regulations than commercial trucks in other states.

Recent Oil Drilling And Fracking Accidents:

Several recent commercial vehicle accidents in Texas highlight some of the dangers of oil tankers.

Goliad, TX - In May, an 18-wheeler tanker truck carrying diesel fuel, veered off US Hwy 183, and crashed, killing the driver, according to a report filed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The driver, identified as Sean Robert Clark, was headed north on the highway at around 11 p.m., when the tractor that was carrying the lead diesel fuel swung off the road and struck a cement culvert.

The report said the trailer separated from the truck and smashed into the truck's cab roof, causing Clark's death. Law enforcement authorities believe that driver error may have lead to the trailer detaching from the truck.

Dimmit County, South Texas - In January 2015, five oil workers were killed after the van in which they were riding collided with a crude oil tanker and exploded.

According to Reuters, the accident occurred in Dimmit County, which is also the location of Eagle Ford Shale, a large fracking field just southwest of San Antonio.

Reuters reported that the accident was triggered by a pickup truck that swerved in front of the oil tanker, causing the driver of the tanker to lose control of his truck, which rolled over.

The van carrying the five oil workers crashed into the tanker and exploded into flames. In addition to the five dead oil workers, three others were injured in the crash, with one victim suffering severe burns that required him to be airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio, where he was admitted in critical condition.

Hurst, TX - In December 2015, a gasoline tanker truck owned by RaceTrac was involved in a single-vehicle accident that killed the tanker driver, and spilled burning fuel across the road.

The accident occurred on East Loop 820 as the tanker was headed south, according to authorities. No other people were injured in the accident, but the gasoline spill shut down both lanes of the highway for hours as cleanup crews worked to clear the potentially hazardous liquid.

Common Causes Of Truck Accidents:

While the increase in commercial truck accidents in Texas may be linked to the increase in the number of trucks on the road because of the fracking and oil-drilling boom, the causes of those accidents may be even more important.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the leading cause of fatalities in large truck accidents in the U.S. is excessive speed. Excessive speed is defined as drivers who exceed the posted speed limit by 15 miles per hour or more.

The second most common cause of truck accident fatalities is driver distraction and/or driver inattention, which is defined as any activity that draws a driver's focus away from the road.

Common distractions that can lead to truck accidents include, cell phone usage, using a GPS, watching a DVD player, eating, reaching for an object that's fallen, and texting while driving.

The third most common cause of large truck accident deaths is driver fatigue, and this has been a persistent problem among long haul and delivery drivers of commercial vehicles.

Unlike drivers in passenger vehicles, drivers of large commercial trucks are often under intense pressure to make their deliveries on time, and that often results in them exceeding the 'hours of use' regulations established by the USDOT.

Hours of use are regulations that restrict truck drivers to a maximum of 82 hours per week driving, and mandate rest periods to prevent too many consecutive hours spent driving.

The FMCSA has published tips to help truck drivers avoid fatigue that could lead to a devastating crash.

Truck Driver Fatigue Tips:

By following these five tips to lower fatigue, truck drivers can maintain a good safety record:

  • Sleep - Drivers should try to sleep between midnight and 6 a.m., when their bodies are most likely to experience the effects of drowsiness.

  • Eat Well - Drivers should not skip meals or eat at times that are different from the natural cycle of breakfast in the morning, lunch at midday or near midday, a light snack in the afternoon and dinner in the early evening hours. A consistent meal pattern provides much-needed nutrients and fuel for the body that is a natural antidote to fatigue.

  • Nap - Studies have shown that even a 15-minute nap gives the body time to restore itself and provides a boost of energy. Drivers should nap between 30 and 45 minutes, and wait another 15 minutes after waking before resuming their journey.

  • Be Aware of Drowsiness Symptoms - Truck drivers should be trained to recognize the first signals of drowsiness, which include yawning, compromised vision and eyes that feel heavy and won't stay open.

  • Limit Medications - Drivers should avoid taking any medication that has a drowsiness warning on its label. This includes over-the-counter medication, such as some antihistamines and cold medicines that can impair full cognitive function.

Personal Injury:

Oil-drilling and fracking show no signs of abating in Texas, which means that the number of commercial trucks on the streets, roads and highways will continue to rise, increasing the likelihood of truck accidents.

These accidents are often complex, and only a personal injury lawyer can sort through all the details, and advise victims about the merits of a lawsuit against a third party who may be held liable for the accident. Compensation for pain and suffering and medical expenses, can help victims put their lives back together again, or at least provide some measure of comfort in a challenging time.

For help with a Texas accident involving an oil tanker, or other type of large truck, contact Eberstein & Witherite, LLP by calling 1800 Truck Wreck (1800-878-2597) at any time of the day or night.

Media Contact:

Lucy Tiseo
Eberstein & Witherite, LLP
Phone: 800-878-2597
Email: lucy.tiseo@ewlawyers.com

SOURCE: Eberstein & Witherite, LLP via Submit Press Release 123