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Oil boom prompts uptick in number of Texas truck accidents

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The recent uptick in the number of fracking and drilling sites in Texas may seem like a positive change to some, but some terrible statistics are emerging about health and safety incidents associated with those sites. New reports show that a rapid increase in truck accidents is accompanying the rapid oil boom. Although the rest of the country is reporting decreases in highway motor vehicle fatalities, Texas has the dubious distinction of experiencing higher death rates. In fact, the state now leads all other states in motor vehicle fatalities, surpassing other large states such as California.

Statistics cannot categorically confirm that the increase in fatal truck accidents is attributable solely to the oil and gas boom. However, it appears that accident rates have increased at a higher clip in those counties in and around the Permian Basin, along with the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale plays. Commercial vehicles hauling everything from workers to water and supplies are becoming ubiquitous in those areas.

Traffic fatalities have skyrocketed by 47 percent in Midland County alone. Bexar County, home to major metro San Antonio, also saw an alarming rise in highway deaths; a 24 percent increase was noted between 2009 and 2013. Even more startling is the fact that public safety numbers show that about one out of every three commercial vehicles should not be on the road because of maintenance issues, bald tires or even intoxicated or negligent truck drivers.

Texas residents should not have to fear for their lives every time they set out on the state's highways. Those at fault for truck accidents caused by improper truck maintenance and other violations should be held accountable in civil court. Those victims who have suffered injury in an oil-related truck accident may be entitled to a variety of civil damages.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Fatal truck accidents have spiked during Texas’ ongoing fracking and drilling boom" Lise Olsen, Sep. 15, 2014

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