Fatal truck accidents on the rise in fracking communities

Fatal truck accidents on the rise in fracking communities

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is a booming industry around the United States, but the growth isn’t without criticism. Many believe the negative side effects, including property damage, water contamination and released gases, outweigh the benefits.

New studies are regularly completed to highlight discoveries associated with fracking. For example, a study in Pennsylvania found more than 200 damaged water supplies from the practice. At various oil and gas wells, workers experience higher than normal levels of benzene exposure.

Developing risks associated with fracking are apparent in Texas, the state with the most created jobs related to oil and gas drilling.

After decades of a decline in fatal traffic accident rates, the last four years in Texas saw an eight percent increase. From 2009 to 2013, commercial vehicle accidents, like tractor-trailers, saw the amount of linked deaths surge by more than 50 percent.

This trend is consistent with truck accident related fatalities around the United States. Overall, the amount increased by 18 percent during the last four years. While fatal car crashes are on the decline, semi-truck related deaths are soaring.

In fact, more than 10 people die each day according to the most recent statistics. Fewer trucks are on the road than before, but deadlines and lack of CDL drivers puts more pressure on the truck drivers.

Almost 20 percent of inspected trucks are removed from the road after inspection for failing safety requirements. R & F Quality Transportation, one of the companies responsible for a fatal truck accident in Texas, accrued many safety violations before being told to quit operations. R & F ignored the warning and one of the semi trucks hit another vehicle, killing its driver.

Most fatal truck accidents are caused by company deadlines, fatigue, poorly trained drivers and trained truck driver shortages.

Is this a trend other states will see? In Pennsylvania, fracking has an ever-growing presence. Ten percent of fatal traffic accidents in Pennsylvania came from large-truck involvement in 2012, placing the Keystone State at number four for the most that year. Within the top five, only Texas had a higher ratio of truck to car accidents.

Sources
  • Andrew Schneider, “In Texas, traffic deaths climb amid fracking boom,” NPR (Oct. 12, 2014). [Link]
  • NHTSA, “Traffic Safety Facts: Large Trucks,” US Department of Transportation (May 2014). [Link]
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