In a recent blog post, we discussed the increase in truck accidents in South Texas due to the oil and gas boom in the region. In the past four years, there has been a 50% increased in truck accidents, most of which are attributed to the increase in traffic and poor safety standards used by trucks in the oil and gas industry. http://denenapoints.com/texas-oil-gas-boom-may-blame-increase-truck-accidents/
A Fiery Crash Claims Five Lives in the Eagle Ford Shale Region
This month there was a spectacular crash that killed five oil field workers when their van slammed into an oil truck causing it to burst into flames. The oil truck had swerved to avoid a pickup, and the van could not avoid crashing into it, causing flames to cover the highway and both vehicles.
There have been similar incidents in the Eagle Ford Shale region, and in 2012 twelve people were killed in six-months in that area alone. As we noted in our previous post on this topic, the cause of these accidents are usually oil truck drivers or workers who are fatigued and fall asleep at the wheel. It is not unusual for workers to put in 20 hours a day, and then they get behind the wheel.
Naturally, the cargo of most of these trucks is crude oil, and anytime there is an accident there can be explosions and fire that make the situation even worse. The survivors of this month’s crash have extensive burns and a simple vehicle accident can turn fatal for this reason alone. Residents and others who use the highways are exposed to a regular and real danger from the oil and gas boom that has been a boost to the economy.
What Can Oil Companies Do To Increase Highway Safety?
The obvious question is what can be done to make the highways safer for everyone in this region. The oil companies who are profiting from the resources in the area have a responsibility to the general public, and should be reviewing the safety protocols and training of drivers. Due to the flammable cargo, it seems the emphasis should be on preventing accidents rather than encouraging long work hours or skipping vehicle maintenance practices.
When conditions are wet, mud can mix with the oil that comes off the 18-wheelers, creating an instant danger in case the truck has to make a sudden stop or maneuver. It is like the trucks are carrying their own oil slicks, and can be released at the time when it is too late to prevent a tragedy. Also, most of the roads are two lane highways, which makes passing or sudden turns difficult to predict. All of these factors add up to some of the most dangerous road conditions in the state of Texas, and it is only a matter of time before more accidents occur. Oil companies need to respond to this situation, or they may face the financial consequences of liability suits from innocent motorists that are injured or killed.