Following the last oil bust, the region turned into a ghost town with less-traveled roadways. After roughly 20 billion barrels of oil was discovered, however, the region quickly bounced back. Roadways became congested with a mix of commercial vehicles, oil tankers, and passenger cars. As a result, the oil region has seen a sharp increase in traffic accidents.
What’s driving the high rate of crashes in the oil region?
The Permian Basin only contains about two percent of the entire Texas population, but the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that in 2017, 11 percent of all statewide traffic fatalities occurred there.
In addition, the Permian Basin had 43,661 crashes, resulting in 1,457 serious injuries and 405 fatalities.
TxDOT attributes the crash rate in that area to the high number of large commercial vehicles traveling through energy sectors. Not only does this put motorists at heightened risk of collisions with large trucks, it also puts extra wear and tear on the roads in that area – creating road defects that could increase the risk of a crash.
What can be done to mitigate the risk?
In its annual “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign, TxDOT hopes to educate motorists on the dangers of driving around commercial vehicles.
“We’re reminding people that trucks take longer to take off and take wider turns,” said Gene Powell, TxDOT public information officer for the Odessa District. “We’re also reminding professional drivers -- don’t speed and stop completely at red lights and stop signs.”
In 2018, TxDOT spent roughly $22 million maintaining and repairing roads throughout the Odessa District. The agency currently seeks to raise up to $800 million to repair Interstate 20 in Midland and Ector counties.
Despite the heightened risk factors throughout the Permian Basin, Powell cites “poor driver behavior” as the leading cause of crashes in the oil region. These leading factors often include impaired driving, distracted driving, tired driving, and speeding.
“If you’re the guy going 81 on Highway 191, you’re part of the problem. If you’re accelerating to beat a yellow light, you’re part of the problem,” said Powell.
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash because of someone else’s reckless behavior, the legal team at the Herrera Law Firm can help you explore your legal options. Our attorneys are experienced with negotiating with insurance companies and resolving car accident and truck accident cases in the courtroom. To get started on your claim, contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.