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Dangers of Frac Sand Trucking Accidents in the Permian Basin

The Permian Basin has become the breadbasket of the oil and gas industries in Texas, resulting in a massive fleet of trucks running each day throughout this
region. Among these high-powered vehicles are frac sand trucks, which provide
critical material to the various oil wells in Permian Basin and the Midland
oilfields. This material is utilized in the fracking process, which has allowed
the energy industry to access a large surplus of oil and gas, but it requires an
equally large amount of sand. One well can consume roughly 50 million pounds of
frac sand and would require a constant supply from trucking companies.

A Day in the Life of a Frac Sand Driver

Local roadways around the Permian Basin are congested with big rigs, including
numerous frac sand trucks. This heavy truck traffic stirs up excessive amounts
of dust and dramatically increases the risk of an accident, but trucks hauling
frac sand are a particular danger. Drivers are often overworked, traveling over
100 miles in a single 12-hour shift at any time of day. Some may end up working
six days a week and pushing the limits of the required maximum driving periods.
These intense schedules can lead to driver fatigue and increase the risk of a

No Specialized Training Required for Many Frac Sand Truck Drivers

Two types of trucks are used to haul frac sand in the Permian Basin – pneumatic
(belly dump) trucks, and sandbox containers placed on flatbed trailers. Drivers
of pneumatic trucks are required to have specific training, but to drive a
sandbox truck, you only need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The demand for
truck drivers is very high, and many drivers arriving in the Permian Basin hired
to drive the sandboxes have little or no experience with oil patches or similar
road conditions.

Challenges of Transporting Fracking Materials

In a recent report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), analysts identified two major factors that contribute to frac sand trucking
accidents in West Texas, including:

  • Increase in truck traffic on local roads that were not designed for such
    heavy traffic; and
  • Exceptions to the traditional hours of service for truckers who supply
    oilfield operations that protect against driver fatigue.

When drivers transport equipment for oilfield operations, they are required to
have “highly specialized training” and can restart their driving hours after
24-hours, rather than the standard 34-hour rest period most truckers are
required to take. This means that they will end up on the road more often and
are more likely to become fatigued. However, another exception for specialized
drivers, such as those who drive pneumatic trucks, allows them to count the time
they wait at an oil-field to their maximum 14-hour driving periods. Logically,
this would mean that they would spend a portion of their “driving hours” resting
and waiting for frac sand to be unloaded, though it is not clear how much they
actually rest during this period. The major issue is that this exception does
not apply to standard frac sand drivers who are only required to have a CDL.
They will ultimately spend more hours driving than specialized drivers,
resulting in a higher risk of driving drowsy.

What Are Your Options If You Have Been Injured in a Frac Sand Trucking

The size and weight of frac sand trucks can result in devastating accidents and
multiple injuries, some of which may be fatal. Whether it is the fault of a
trucking company who did not properly screen new hires or a trucker who
disobeyed the required rest period, you have a right to pursue compensation in a
frac sand trucking accident. Trucking accident claims can be complicated, often
involving multiple liable parties and complex accident conditions. Sorting
through evidence, witness statements, and insurance policies requires the talent
and knowledge of an experienced attorney. The Texas trucking accident lawyers at
Sorey & Gilliland have handled multiple large truck accident cases in the
Permian Basin and have a thorough understanding of the trucking and oil
companies who work there. Call us at (903) 207-5526 to schedule a free initial
consultation to review your case and learn what your options are under the law.