Traffic Dangers Follow West Texas Oil Boom: Increase in Traffic Fatalities and Trucking Accidents Have some Concerned
There is always a risk when navigating Texas highways under the best of conditions. But when traffic is heavy, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid an auto accident, especially when your car has to share the road with a large number of 18-wheeler trucks, with drivers who may be in their twelfth or thirteenth hour of driving. The problems can be even greater in remote areas that are simply not used to traffic jams and do not have roads large enough to handle the oil field services trucks.
The oil boom west of San Angelo and around Midland/Odessa, Texas is one such place. Traffic jams that are commonplace on the wide freeways of Dallas or Houston have suddenly made the two-lane roads surrounding this sleepy West Texas region quite treacherous. On some roads, traffic has more than doubled over the last several years. It’s gotten so bad that many oil field workers consider driving on the highways to be the most dangerous part of their job. Their perception is not unfounded, since most occupational accidents occur on the highways.
Oil field workers have a taxing job, and the strain is on both the drivers and the trucks. Truck drivers are often required to drive huge 18-wheelers in heavy traffic on highways that were never built for such high volume truck traffic. They take their load, sometimes larger than legally allowed for the trailer and/or roadway, to its destination, and they do so over and over again, often in 12-hour shifts or longer, five or more days per week. Each truck runs 24 hours every day, with night drivers and day drivers sharing a truck, with a short inspection after each 12-hour shift. The drivers are required to wear fire retardant suits and the cabs are monitored for poisonous gases, which would indicate the danger inherent in their job.
Unfortunately, other vehicles, full of people who are just trying to go to work, or shop, or take their kids to soccer practice, are required to share the road with these trucks, and they are not supplied with the same safety equipment as the truck drivers. With so many large trucks pulling long duty on roads not built for heavy traffic, with drivers who may be fatigued at the end of a long shift, and smaller vehicles having to share the road with them, auto accidents are destined to happen. When these accident do happen, they often lead to serious permanent injuries and deaths due to the size of the vehicles involved.
While the recent oil boom in West Texas is welcome in many ways, there will likely be an increase in accidents and fatalities as a result. This has been the pattern in the other oil boom parts of the state of Texas. If you or a loved one have been injured due to an accident in one of the communities affected by the West Texas Permian Basin oil boom, contact a lawyer with experience handling these types of claims. The Texas Oilfield Accident Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm are here to discuss your legal rights. Call us today!