In 2010, 72 fatal motor vehicle collisions occurred in Texas involving three or more deaths. In 2012, this number was up to 101. In 2013, the number of accidents with three or more deaths had climbed to 148. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows that Texas leads the nation in the number of motor vehicle fatalities that occur each year. These “triple tragedies” are not helping matters in terms of road safety in Texas.
Recently, an editorial in the Star Telegram suggested that one possible way to reduce the carnage would be making tougher rules for the oil and gas industry.
Could Better Regulation of Oil and Gas Trucks Improve Road Safety?
While the trend across the United States is one of decreasing motor vehicle collisions, the opposite is true in Texas and accidents are actually on the rise. There are certain streets and areas in Texas where an especially high number of collisions are occurring, which is contributing to the rise in traffic fatalities. These streets are largely in areas that serve oil boom towns.
For example, State Highway 72 stretches for 112 miles in the southeastern part of Texas and it serves the oil boom towns located in the Eagle Ford Shale. This strip of highway has seen so many motor vehicle collisions (21 since 2011) that it is now being called “Death Row.” A total of four of the collisions on this road since 2011 have involved three or more people losing their lives.
Interstate 20, which serves Fort Worth, the Barnett Shale and the Midland-Odessa oil-rich areas, has seen 13 collisions since 2010 in which three or more people died. This is double the number of triple tragedies compared with Interstate 10, even though Interstate 10 is a much longer road that goes across Texas from the East to West Direction.
There is no specific data indicating exactly how many of the fatal accidents on these roads have actually involved oil or gas workers, nor how many of the vehicles involved were work vehicles for the oil and gas industry. However, Texas Mutual Insurance, the largest workers’ compensation insurer in testate of Texas, shows that there has been an increase in work injury and work fatality claims made due to transportation accidents. According to the insurance company, oil and gas employers have reported 24 fatal motor vehicle collisions just in 2014 alone. This is three times the number of deadly collisions reported by oil and gas employers in 2009.
Oil and gas workers often do 12-hour days or 24-hour shifts, sometimes working for 14 days straight. These workers naturally cannot be expected to be able to drive or manipulate large equipment as carefully as a well rested worker who is not suffering form fatigue. Driver fatigue has been demonstrated to be just as dangerous as intoxicated driving, and a driver who has been awake for 24 hours has the equivalent impairment of a blood alcohol concentration of .10. Industry regulators need to address these long shifts and employ better safety rules and standards to cut down on vehicle fatigue and to try to reduce the number of deadly motor vehicle collisions occurring on the roads that serve the Texas oil industry.
If you or a loved one has been injured contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at 800-994-1966 or visit https://www.cobywootenlaw.com. Serving Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, TX and surrounding areas.