Around half of all traffic-related deaths reported in Texas last year occurred in the Permian Basin or other oil and natural gas producing regions.
“A big increase in the number of heavy trucks and traffic on state and county roads adds to the complexity of driving – something we always need to give our full attention to, while also obeying traffic laws,” said Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director James Bass. “That’s why we are urging every motorist to drive smart and take simple precautions to prevent crashes.”
Permian Basin Roads Full of Inexperienced, Fatigued Truckers
Oilfield truck accidents and other motor vehicle crashes killed 1,673 people in the Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Granite Wash, Haynesville/Bossier Shale, and Permian Basin last year, while injuring more than 6,000 others. According to TxDOT, that’s an increase of about 4% over 2017.
Route 285 – known locally as “Death Highway – is now one of the most dangerous roads in Texas and New Mexico. Like many highways in the Midland-Odessa region, Route 285 is ill-equipped to handle the thousands of 18-wheelers and other heavy trucks keeping the Permian Basin oilfields supplied and running around-the-clock.
To make matters even worse, a severe hiring shortage means that many oilfield servicing companies are now allowing inexperienced truckers, already unfamiliar with the Permian’s hazardous rural roads and highways, to drive 12-hours shifts, seven-days-per-week, with few breaks and little time off to rest.
“It’s very dangerous out here, and it’s just getting worse and worse with the growth,” one Calfrac trucker recently told The Houston Chronicle. “A lot of people are getting killed when they’re not getting enough sleep and just trying to drive back home.”
TxDOT’s “BE Safe. Drive Smart.” Campaign Targets Permian Basin
TxDOT recently kicked off its annual “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign, which urges motorists in the state’s energy producing regions to:
- Always buckle up—drivers and all passengers, day and night.
- Drive a safe speed that takes into account the amount of traffic, road conditions, and weather.
- Focus 100% on driving. No talking or texting behind the wheel.
- Give large trucks plenty of space, be patient, and pass only when it’s safe and legal to do so.
- Obey stop signs and traffic signals.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
The campaign is targeting the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale in October, where an interactive exhibit featuring games, quizzes, and video displays will remind motorists to safely navigate the challenges of driving in high-traffic oil and gas production areas.
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