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Drilling boom increases truck accidents

Natural gas and oil production across Texas and other states has been linked to a big increase in traffic fatalities. An Associated Press analysis of fatal motor vehicle accidents in major drilling states suggests that equipment and trucks on the road have contributed to a quadruple in the number of fatalities in those locations. While many American road studies have indicated a decrease in road accidents, the trend is the reverse in drilling locations.

One law enforcement official noted his department is overwhelmed trying to address the issues caused on roads that are loaded up with heavy trucks. The oil and trucking industry is aware of the problem and officials state they are trying to investigate ways for improvement and enhanced safety protocol.

While the drilling industry has been heralded for providing job opportunities, relocating manufacturers back in the U.S., and boosting up local economies, more trucks on the road increases overall accident risks for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Texas alone has seen some gruesome accidents directly related to drilling, including one in 2012 when a young adult was killed in a drilling truck collision.

Part of the spike in drilling truck traffic is due to the way drilling is conducted today, known as the hydraulic-fracturing procedure. Gas and oil are extracted by adding mixtures of sand, gravel, or water, which require up to twice as many trips for delivery of those high-pressure concoctions.

Another factor is that drilling activity typically clogs up roads more quickly than traffic signal installations and new roadways can be implemented. This delay puts communities and their residents at risk of injuries from deadly truck accidents.

Those involved in a truck accident, whether a part of the recent drilling expansions or not, may want to speak with an attorney to better understand their rights.

Source: Indiana Gazette, "Study: traffic deaths a side effect of drilling boom," Jonathan Fahey and Kevin Begos, May 6, 2014 

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