Texas leads the nation in large vehicle accidents, according to the Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The state actually surpassed California's number. Though Texas saw a reduction in the number of car accidents, it has since risen to lead the country. But why the rise? There are studies that show a distinct correlation between the rise of traffic accidents involving commercial trucks and the fracking boom that started in 2008. The increase in fracking sites caused an increase in the number of trucks that occupied Texas highways, leading to more opportunities of a crash.
You may wonder what fracking is and why it is such a big deal in Texas. Fracking refers to hydraulic fracturing. This normally links with horizontal drilling. Both procedures procure natural oils and gasses from shale sites. Shales are the sedimentary rock that they drill into. Fracking involves drilling into the shale, then using water, sand, and additives to extract the oil.
Texas leads the country in the number of fracking sites it has. There are 33,753 fracking wells since 2005. 13,540 have been drilled into since 2012. This makes the Lone Star state the leading producer of crude oil. However, despite the economic benefits fracking has had on the community, there are many dangers that also arise.
FRACKING AND TEXAS TRAFFIC
Because fracking occurs in the more rural areas of Texas, the small communities feel the influx of commercial trucks on the highways. Studies find that between 2008 through 2013, the state has suffered a significant number of truck accident related deaths. According to the United States Department of Transportation, Texas leads the country in car-crash fatalities since the fracking boom. In general, death tolls for traffic accidents rose 8%, from 3,122 to 3,378. These accidents occurred primarily near shale plays.
Some notable Texas shale plays include:
- Barnett Shale
- Pearsall Shale
- Eagle Ford
In communities heavily impacted with fracking activity, there is a discernible spike in accidents involving commercial trucks. In the Permian Basin, accident rates increased by 50% while in the Barnet Shale and Eagle Ford counties, the toll rose by 11%.
Tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and commercial vans are constantly transporting material such as water, oil, and supplies from the fracking sites. This increases risks on the road. According to researchers, the common reasons for the rise in truck accidents include:
- Company deadlines
- Failure to maintain proper vehicle quality
- Driver fatigue or lack of sleep
- Lack of training
- Improper regulation of trucks and drivers
In fact, many accidents could have been prevented if proper care had been taken and safety codes met. The Department of Public Safety's "Road Check" reveals that 27-30% of the trucks on the road are in violation of one or more safety codes. Drivers like Guadalupe Quintanilla may still be alive if the proper care had been taken.
Quintanilla, 45, was driving a big-rig when another tractor truck collided with him. Both drivers were ejected from their vehicles and killed on the spot. The other driver, Guadalupe Garcia, drove for Turn Around Trucking. He was previously cited for defective tires. Upon further investigation, the company's CEO revealed that his drivers were not offered the proper training needed to promote safe practices. Accidents such as these are preventable and heartbreaking.
At Wyatt Law Firm, we believe the roads should be safe for all drivers. Even with the fracking boom, trucking companies have a responsibility to ensure their drivers and trucks meet the required standards. If you or a loved one suffered because of a truck accident and it was because of the other driver's negligence, you may have claims for compensation. Contact our San Antonio auto accident attorneys for a free consultation and more information on your legal rights.