- CRITTER TALK
- NEWS I FIND INTERESTING
Most people, however, do not know that the increase in fracking has caused another problem– increased traffic accidents. Growth in the fracking industry has put more big trucks on the road. In turn, that growth has caused an increase in traffic accidents that can cause injury and death.
Image via Flickr by Alan Light
It’s nearly impossible to deny the link between increased trucking accidents and the growth of fracking.
According to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in over 104,000 injuries and nearly 4,000 deaths during 2012. The number of traffic crashes that did not cause injury or death reached 333,000. All of these accidents involved trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
Fatalities involving large trucks increased by 4 percent from 2011 (3,781) to 2012 (3,012). Seventy-three percent of people who died in the crashes were occupants of smaller vehicles. Eighteen percent of the people who died were in large trucks, while 10 percent were completely innocent bystanders who were not in either vehicle.
It’s important to note that this increase in accidents happened during a time that the fracking industry hit a major growth spurt in states such as Texas, Colorado, and North Dakota.
The fracking industry has experienced rapid growth in Texas. Only four states have more than 5,000 fracking wells (Texas, North Dakota, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.) Since 2005, Texas has added over 33,750 fracking wells. No other state comes close to this accelerated growth. Colorado, which has the second-fastest growth rate, only added 18,168 fracking wells since 2005.
This growth has had terrible consequences for people using Texas roadways. The increase in traffic deaths grew 11.3 percent between 2011 and 2012. That’s an increase of nearly 350 fatalities. The Texas Department of Transportation report doesn’t include any years with such a steep increase in deaths.
Any industry that causes a sharp rise in the number of big rigs on the road could potentially increase traffic risks. The fracking industry, however, seems to cause more problems than other industries.
There are several reasons that fracking might pose higher risks to motorists. First, construction workers driving large trucks don’t usually have as much experience as truckers who drive for a living. Construction workers driving large trucks often travel short distances. They just need to move equipment from one field to another. That makes them less experienced, which also makes them a bigger risk.
Second, construction workers don’t follow the same laws as commercial truckers. Most commercial truckers have to follow carefully worded laws that prevent them from participating in risky behaviors. Regulations, for instance, encourage commercial drivers to stay off the roads late at night so they can get enough sleep to function unimpaired. Those rules don’t apply to construction workers traveling shorter routes.
Finally, industry booms encourage people to disregard laws. Companies know they have to get as much done as quickly as possible, so they often put a lot of pressure on their workers. Those workers want to meet expectations so they can keep their jobs and potentially earn more money. When expectations become unrealistic, eager employees may bend or break laws. Law firms like Tracey and Fox recognize driver negligence, driver fatigue, and reckless driving as some of the most common causes of accidents.
The lack of experience, lower level of regulations, and willingness to avoid regulations come together to create a serious problem for anyone traveling the roads.
Drivers don’t have much power to change the way that truck drivers behave on the road. Knowing that the rise of fracking has created a dangerous environment may encourage you to drive more cautiously, but you still can’t control what other drivers do.
You can, however, seek compensation if you have been hurt by a truck driver working in the fracking industry. Given the correlation between the industry’s growth and the increase in traffic accidents, you could have a good case for compensation.