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In the Permian Basin Oil Boom, Road Safety Should Not be Forgotten

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Shale oil in the Permian Basin has been a boon to the West Texas economy, and has been largely responsible for the United States becoming one of the top oil producing countries in the world. However, the citizens of West Texas have paid a heavy price, one denominated in lives lost. Their roads have become some of the deadliest in America.

93 people died in truck accidents in 2017 in the Texas portion of the Permian Basin alone. There have been 147 fatalities this year through July. There is a road fatality every 35 hours in the Permian Basin-up from one every 75 hours two years ago. Route 285, which runs from Carlsbad, New Mexico to Pecos, Texas, has been dubbed the "Death Highway."

The danger comes from the massive increase in truck traffic combined with an influx of inexperienced drivers drawn by the high demand for truckers. Drivers can make $120,000 per year in the Permian Basin, largely regardless of experience. Drivers are incentivized to put in as many miles as possible, which leads many to drive without rest. Increasingly, some drivers turn to amphetamines, cocaine, or even meth.

Unfortunately, while oil companies, trucking companies, and oilfield services companies reap the profits, and oil workers benefit from the higher wages, the residents of West Texas are paying the price. Efforts to improve the road infrastructure in West Texas to keep up with the boom need to include a focus on road safety. The stakeholders who gain the most from the boom owe a responsibility to the residents and their own workers to ensure that the roads are safe. That means enforcing safe driving standards on their employees and on the companies with which they do business.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an vehicle accident with a truck, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz by calling 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.

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