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Risks Associated with Tanker Trucks

U.S. oil production has experienced explosive growth over the past decade, largely due to drilling in the Permian Basin. Although the growth of crude oil production in the U.S. has had a stabilizing influence on the world’s oil markets, it has also created risks associated with tanker trucks for people traveling on smaller highways in rural New Mexico and Texas communities. Traffic is congested and accidents occur more frequently on routes to and from the Permian Basin.

Transportation Needs in the Permian Basin

By the end of 2018, thanks to hydraulic fracturing, the Permian Basin was producing 3.8 million barrels of oil per day. All this drilling means significantly increased transportation needs. Equipment and materials must be transported to the well sites. Personnel must be transported to and from well sites, which are often located in remote areas. Vehicles are used to move equipment and materials at the well sites. Last but not least, commercial tanker trucks are used to haul away fracking water, oil, and gas.

What Are the Risks Associated with Tanker Trucks and the Oil Boom?

Highway vehicle crashes are the leading cause of worker death in the oil and gas extraction industries, as reported by OSHA. Tanker truck and highway vehicle incidents claim the lives of approximately four out of every ten oil and gas workers killed on the job.

It is not only oil workers who are killed and injured in Permian Basin transportation accidents. Traffic accidents and fatalities have increased overall. In fact, Route 285, has been named “Death Highway” by locals. This is one of the main roads used to carry equipment and supplies to and from West Texas oilfields. It runs through Pecos, Texas and Carlsbad, New Mexico, and is considered by some to be the deadliest highway in the U.S. In a recent year, 93 people died in truck accidents on the Texas side only of the Permian Basin, as reported by The Dallas Morning News.

What Are the Factors Contributing to Truck Accidents in the Permian Basin?

There are many factors contributing to the risks oil workers and other motorists are facing on highways in the Permian Basin. One factor is older highways not originally designed for the volume of traffic they are now supporting. Truck drivers may hit sinkholes several feet wide. Other contributing factors include:

  • Fatigued driving and speeding: Truck drivers are in great demand and can make excellent money. Problems arise when they are too tired to drive, but continue driving anyway, or when they speed to get the job done sooner. Workers who have been in the oilfields for ten or 11 days, working 14 hours a day, may be too tired to drive safely.
  • Driver inexperience: Oil companies are hiring young and inexperienced drivers. Transportation training at a New Mexico junior college involves three-week long sessions, after which commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants take a three-part test. Companies are substituting formal training for experience, and there are currently very few drivers who have even two to three years of oilfield experience with big rigs.
  • Poor truck maintenance: A lot more upkeep is required for an oilfield truck than an on-the-road truck. Big rigs used to carry oilfield supplies are not always properly maintained, and equipment failure can lead to truck accidents.

If you have been hurt in a truck accident in Texas or New Mexico, contact the Sorey Law Firm P.L.L.C. at (903) 207-5526. Our experienced truck accident lawyers are dedicated advocates for the injured.