Traffic Accidents Rose 3% in Permian Basin, Other Texas Energy Regions Last Year
The roads and highways throughout Texas’s energy-producing regions continued to challenge drivers in 2019.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), more than 205,000 traffic accidents were reported in the Texas Energy Sector last year, representing a 3% increase compared to 2018. Those crashes resulted in 1,638 fatalities across the Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Granite Wash, Haynesville/Bossier Shale, and Permian Basin.
Texas Energy Sector Crashes Linked to Speeding, Distracted Driving
Speeding and distracted driving remained the leading causes of traffic accidents in the Texas Energy Sector. The constant presence of 18-wheelers and other heavy oilfield trucks also added to the area’s roadway dangers.
“Heavy trucks and work crews on state and county roads continue to create a challenging driving environment,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “That’s why we’re urging every motorist to slow down, drive smart, and obey traffic laws to prevent crashes.”
During the most recent Texas drilling boom, oil companies needed thousands of heavy trucks and 18-wheelers to transport sand, water, and other supplies to and from the oilfields. But because of a severe shortage of experienced drivers, these employers were routinely offering six-figure wages to attract new oilfield truckers, many of whom lacked the experience to safely navigate the rural roads and highways typical of the Permian Basin and other energy-producing areas of the state.
Texas Crash Rate Trending Higher, Despite Coronavirus Shutdown
Oilfield truck accidents, other motor vehicle crashes, and traffic fatalities have been trending upwards in the Texas Energy Sector for the past several years.
There was some hope that the recent coronavirus shutdown and the accompanying slowdown in the oil market would reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes. But traffic accident rates are actually up across Texas, even though traffic volume has decreased significantly. The Permian Basin, for example, reported 59 fatal crashes during the first three months of 2020, an increase of 10 compared to the same period last year.
According to transportation officials, a rise in reckless behaviors – speeding, intoxicated driving, and driver inattention – is driving the uptick.
TxDOT Kicks Off “Be Safe. Drive Smart” Campaign
TxDOT recently kicked off its annual “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign, which seeks to encourage safe driving habits in the Texas Energy Sector. The campaign asks drivers to:
- Maintain a safe speed, accounting for traffic, road conditions, and weather.
- Focus 100% on driving; no talking or texting when 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.
- Always buckle up—drivers and passengers, day and night.
Motorists in the Texas Energy Sector can expect to see various common-sense safety reminders on TV, radio, social media, billboards, and gas pumps. Texas Mutual Insurance Company, which helps employers prevent on-the-job incidents, is also working with TxDOT to distribute educational materials to promote safe driving.
“Be Safe. Drive Smart.” is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader effort to promote safe driving across the state. November 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the state’s streak of daily traffic-related deaths.
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