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South Texas Oil & Gas Boom Leads To More Traffic Fatalities

Seventy-one more people were killed on South Texas roadways in 2012 than in 2011. The majority of those who were involved in a fatal accident were men driving between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m., presumably traveling to or from work.

The Texas Department of Transportation released highway fatality statistics last weekend that painted a grim picture for those in areas, like the Eagle Ford Shale region, that are experiencing a boom in oil and gas drilling and production. Narrow, shoulderless roads are being traveled much more frequently by workers commuting to and from the oil and gas fields and by commercial vehicles. These roads that are seeing an uptick in traffic may or may not have been received regular maintenance in the recent past.

In Karnes County, Dimmitt County and La Salle County - the areas seeing heightened activity because of the Eagle Ford Shale boom - the Texas Department of Public Safety reports a 1000 percent increase in commercial truck accidents.

Adding to the severity of any commercial truck accident or passenger vehicle crash is the rural nature of the areas where oil and gas booms occur. They tend to be farther away from emergency and hospital services; that translates into longer response times from emergency personnel.

CEO and President of the Texas Motor Vehicle Associatino John Esparza asserts that 84 percent of truck-car accidents are found to be the fault of the driver of the passenger car. But, at least one local resident has found reason to question that statistic. A South Texas resident who lives just off of Texas 123 says she's seen her share of cowboy truckers attempting to pass other cars on hills with limited visibility, who have run other drivers off the road and even one who passed a school bus.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Oil, gas boom make roads more dangerous," March 15, 2013

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