As we have discussed in previous posts, the Eagle Ford Shale oil boom is boosting economic activity around the state – but one dangerous side effect of this boom is a surge in fatal traffic accidents.
For the small South Texas town of Karnes City, located in the heart of Eagle Ford Shale territory, the dramatic rise of fatal trucking accidents prompted an aggressive response. The town organized a special task force to work for safer roads. Since the beginning of the oil boom, Karnes City’s population has nearly tripled and the area experienced 13 fatal accidents this year alone.
The new initiative, known as the Texas Thunder Task Force, boosted the number of law enforcement officers in the area. These 25 new officers work with the local sheriff’s office and a county judge to raise awareness and hold law breakers accountable for dangerous behavior. The task force is also building connections with oil and gas companies – this allows officials to contact the companies to help crack down on dangerous activities like fatigued driving.
Two Karnes City officials attributed the biggest risks to a high volume of new drivers in an unfamiliar area. With the heavy influx of oil field workers, many drivers are on the roads with very little sleep and high levels of job stress. The combination of these factors dramatically raises the risk of fatal trucking wrecks.
So far, Karnes City says it has seen impressive results from its efforts and that fatal accidents are occurring there less frequently.
Source: News West 9, “Special Report: Small Oil Boom Community Creates Task Force to Combat Crashes,” Geena Martinez, Oct. 29, 2012