It would be hard to deny the positive economic impact the fracking boom has had in Texas over the last several years, but progress is often accompanied by challenges. One of the challenges of the oil patch culture is the commuting worker, or more specifically, the dangers that accompany the long hours and long commutes required to keep their jobs in the booming industry.
Statistics show that fatalities have increased on Texas roads where the workers travel. Interstate 20, which runs through Mesquite and the Dallas area, has had more triple fatality accidents – where three or more people are killed – than other Texas interstates.
But smaller highways and rural roads are also seeing an uptick in fatalities. Just on Texas highway 72, 21 fatal accidents have occurred since 2011. The local residents now refer to it as, “death row.”
Since the boom began in 2008 Texas has had more transportation fatalities than any other state. And while the dangers of working in the fracking industry are well-known, about half of the oil patch workers who died in Texas last year lost their lives in transportation-related accidents. Some point to the standard schedules of the workers, many of whom have long commutes after two weeks of 12-hour daily shifts.
Some have pointed to the industry itself and the employers of the workers. In some of the reported accidents where fatalities have resulted from a driver falling asleep at the wheel, providing designated drivers, on-sire resting areas, or adequate space in bunkhouses could have helped prevent the tragedies.
Regardless of the cause of a tragic car crash, those affected may suffer lifelong consequences, both financially and emotionally. Those who survive a crash may have permanent injuries. The families and loved ones of those who perish may lose their sole breadwinner.
While no one can heal the emotional scars, an attorney who helps victims recover medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering can at least help ease the economic consequences of such a tragedy.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Fracking boom increases ‘triple tragedies’ on Texas highways,” Lise Olsen, Sept. 16, 2014