According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003-2013 the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry experienced unprecedented growth leading to a doubling of its workforce and an increase in the number of drilling rigs by 71%.
In the midst of this rapid growth came the discovery of oil and gas in the Eagle Ford Shale, a long, geological formation that straddles the heartland of Texas’ central-southern regions. Its brittle sedimentary structure is extracted through hydraulic fracturing–otherwise known as fracking, a process in which rock is smashed with a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release small pockets of oil and gas inside.
Stretching across the brush country of South Texas, from Madisonville–just north of Houston–all the way to the western rural regions of Carrizo Springs and Crystal City, the Eagle Ford Shale has been the most oil-and-gas-rich geological formation in the state since its discovery in 2008, producing more than 1 million barrels of oil a day.
At roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long the Eagle Ford Shale is home nearly 30 counties in which thousands of locals are settled and to which oil and gas professionals have flocked on the promise of steady employment. Similar to the eruption that occurred in the Permian Basin of West Texas, these counties have stood witness to an alarming spike in truck accidents as the industry produces higher volumes of commercial vehicle freight.
Local officials and state lawmakers are pushing for additional funding to improve road infrastructure as oilfield traffic continues to rise.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2013 nearly 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving 18-wheelers. Texas leads the nation in large truck road fatalities at 536, almost double the number of the next closest state. That’s an increase of 52% from 352 fatalities in 2009.
Is the spike in big rig accidents related to the oil boom that took place in the Eagle Ford Shale?
A 2015 report released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) suggests that the amount of drilling activity in an area, such as the Permian Basin or Eagle Ford Shale, is strongly correlated with the number of rural commercial vehicle crashes. When oil production activity increases, the number of reported road accidents involving big rigs increases as well. Conversely, when drilling activity diminishes, so does the number of road accidents.
Get the Justice You Deserve
Road fatalities and injuries involving 18-wheelers are serious realities for both big rig operators and regular vehicle passengers, especially on the treacherous roads of the Eagle Ford Shale. Fortunately, there are lawyers who specialize in truck driving accident injury cases and can help you get the justice that you or your family deserves.