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Texas Shows an Upward Increase in Highway Accidents since Oil and Gas Boom in 2008

For about six decades now, the number of highway deaths across the US have been steadily dropping. Americans are starting to buckle up more, and small children are regularly tucked into safety seats and not just because it is the law. Those buying new cars are going for the ones that have air bags everywhere and updated security features.

This has been the trend in almost all the states in the nation, except for Texas. In Texas, all motor vehicle fatalities including the number of accidents involving commercial trucks have started to increase ever since the state saw its drilling and fracking boom in 2008. The good news is that America’s oil production increases which meant less money headed to Saudi Arabia every month and thousands of high paying domestic jobs created.

Nothing to Write Home About

Trucks are the most common reason for highway accidents and deaths today in the Lone Star State, and US Department of Transportation records show this. Texas has easily surpassed California as the national leader in the number of highway accidents and deaths in the country.

Death on Wheels

Between the years of 2009 and 2013, traffic fatalities in Texas climbed by as much as 8%. The number for highway accidents in the state in 2009 was 3,122 which increased to 3,378 in 2013. While the rest of the country was breathing a sigh of relief, traffic deaths linked to commercial vehicles in the state kept on rising and increased by up to 51% from 352 in 2009 to 532 in 2013. Even in 2014, despite the warning signs from various reports and the nationwide transportation data, the trend seems impossible to change.

Truck accident attorneys in the state say that there is no definitive way of telling how many passenger cars or commercial vehicles that crashed in the state in the 2009-13 period could be linked to the oil and gas boom. But, statewide records clearly show that the number of accidents has increased more in the cluster of counties which make up Texas’ Permian Basin, and the Barnett and Eagle Ford shale plays. This same area has also seen thousands of jobs created out of thin air and despite the recession that has continued in states such as California, Illinois, and New York, Texas is shining bright.

These are the major regions in the state fuelling the oil and gas industry right now, and roads in these areas are almost always busy with tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and commercial vans used to haul water, workers, and supplies to drilling sites, or to the urban areas that serve as business hubs for the rapidly burgeoning oil field industry.

Numbers Tell All

Take a look at the numbers: major vehicle fatalities in the Permian Basin region in Texas have gone up by about 50% in the years since the boom. Deaths in the Eagle Ford counties as well as the Barnett Shale counties have increased by 11%. These statistics are from a report collated by the Houston Chronicle, and computed and compared for each multicounty area in Texas.

Equally worrisome is the news that state troopers participating in Texas’ special trouble shooting programs conducted by the department of Public Safety have regularly reported finding commercial trucks that should not be operating at all due to the potentially life-threatening problems like defective brakes, bald tires, bad safety lights, and so on. There is so much commerce, the industry cannot even keep up. Despite the wrecks, this just means more prosperity for those living in this area and also for Americans outside this state.