Rise In Texas 18 Wheeler Accident Deaths Connected To Eagle Ford Oil and Gas BoomAugust 3, 2012
According to an article featured in the Houston Chronicle, one south central Texas community is very concerned about the recent rise in traffic deaths which has taken place in the area. The Chronicle explains that Karnes County, Texas alone has seen 12 traffic deaths in the past 6 months. Reportedly, the Karnes County sheriff has tied the rise in traffic deaths over the past couple of years to the rise of oil and gas drilling in the Karnes County area. According to the Karnes County Sherriff’s Department, one stretch of high along Texas 239 has seen five fatalities since March 1st and has been nicknamed the “death trap.” Reportedly, Karnes County is one of more than a dozen counties which have experienced a noticeable rise in traffic deaths in the wake of the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas boom. According to a study done by the Texas Department of Transportation, in the counties most affected by the Eagle Ford drilling the biggest jump in traffic accidents has involved commercial vehicles. This number has risen from 6 in 2008 to 24 last year.
The article points out that LaSalle County, Texas has had a 418 percent increase in commercial vehicle crashes since 2008. Further, McMullen County has seen a 1,050 percent increase in commercial traffic accidents. According to the Chronicle, reaching an exact figure on the number of traffic deaths is difficult, because records are usually not corrected when accident victims pass after the accident. Locals are concerned that as more companies and workers flock to the Eagle Ford shale the roads will deteriorate quickly.
According to the Karnes County Sherriff’s Department, the county has grown from 12,000 people to 30,000 in correlation with the oil and gas boom. This means that roads which at one time saw 2 to 3 trucks a day now see upwards of 500. Local authorities believe that a majority of the increase in traffic is commercial.
The Chronicle articulates that a “more people more crashes” explanation does not necessarily explain the entire situation. Local authorities believe that the increase in crashes can be attributed to a number of reasons including: fatigued drilling workers, driving home after a long shift, unfamiliar roads, people in a hurry, not paying attention and bad roads. Local officials say a majority of the roads were not made to support huge drilling rigs and shipments of water. Local authorities say the roads are constantly being worn down and it is hard for the county and state to keep pace. The concerns of the locals have been corroborated as the Center for Disease Control reports that traffic accidents have been the leadings cause of death for oil workers from 2004 to the present.
According to the Chronicle, community leaders and members are quick to point out the economic benefits of the oil and gas boom, but it presents a dilemma on how to balance the interests of public safety against the oil and gas benefits. As the death rises the state and counties are taking initiatives to increase safety. The Texas Department of Public Safety recently initiated a campaign targeting Eagle Ford counties. Reportedly, extra troopers are also looking for all kinds of violations in the hopes of encouraging safer driving from everyone on the road. The Chronicle reports that thus far the measurements have been effective.
If you have been in a wreck with an 18 wheeler or commercial vehicle in Texas, contact the Amaro Law Firm for a free and private consultation about your case at 1-877-892-2797.