Mar 11

The Eagle Ford Shale Oil Boom and The Rise of Deadly Truck Accidents in South Texas

by Tate Law Offices, P.C.Truck Wrecks

Oil trucks

Eagle Ford Shale represents the largest single economic development in the history of the state of Texas. As of November 1, 2013, the 260 rigs erected and running in thirty Texas counties in Eagle Ford represent 19% of all drills operating inside the United States. The surge of interest in this area has quickly grown to become the largest oil and gas development in the world, and is currently supporting more than 116,000 jobs in the region. To build the region to this level, it took more than 400,000 truckloads of equipment, not including the refracturing process and other activities after a well is producing. If each truck or truckload requires 50 gallons of gasoline to make the trip, the diesel or gas needed to fuel those trucks was over 20 million gallons. Although this may seem high, it would be less than one day’s worth of current production in the Eagle Ford Shale; approximately 60% of a day’s total oil extraction.

In March 2013, Eagle Ford produced 500,000 gallons of oil each day, approximately 11,905 barrels. Depending on the gravity of the oil, a truck can typically haul between 165 to 200 gallons of oil at a time. To transport the oil produced in this region would require between 60 and 72 trucks each day. This surge in traffic has not come unnoticed.

Some of the Texas counties affected by this growth include:

  • De Witt
  • Karnes
  • La Salle
  • McMullen
  • Gonzales
  • Dimmit
  • Webb
  • Atascosa
  • Live Oak
  • Madison
  • Zavala
  • Frio
  • Burleson

Eagle Ford Shale Catastrophic Truck Injury and Accident Growth

Compared with other shale depositories in the US, the Eagle Ford region is more rural; the growing interest in this region has created busier roads that are not accustomed to, or designed for, this concentration of traffic and for the weight of large oil and gas industry trucks. The narrow, two lane highways in this area are too small to hold the majority of the commercial vehicles that are now traveling across them, and they were not designed to support the continuous and heavy traffic, as well as the increase of passenger vehicle traffic, in these regions, due to the population explosion. The increase in local jobs tied to the Eagle Ford boom, coupled with the rise in 18-wheeler traffic has led to an increased number of accidents on Texas highways in the South Texas oil boom areas.

Many of these rural counties have not had the resources to regularly maintain their roads to support oil and gas trucks or other industrial traffic. Small towns have lately prioritized road upkeep and improving congestion, but have found difficulty in funding many of the needed repairs. In rural areas surrounding the 30 counties where oil and gas drilling takes place there were 213 fatal crashes in 2012, resulting in the loss of 254 lives. In fact, a stretch of FM 239 in Karnes County has been labeled by locals as the “death trap.”

In particular, the rural areas surrounding the Eagle Ford area, whose economies have not directly benefited from the oil boom, have been hurt; many towns have turned to oil companies to help pay for their road repairs to keep roadways safe for the local residents.

Factors that contribute to accident rate growth:

  • Truck driver fatigue
  • Overloaded trucks
  • Speeding
  • Distracted truck drivers
  • Failure to train truck and equipment operators
  • Drugs use and driving while intoxicated
  • Increased traffic on small roads that are ill equipped to handle the weight of large oil and gas trucks or heavy congestion from these trucks and the increase in other vehicles sharing the roads.

Oilfield Worker Commercial Driver Exemption and the Law

Federal regulations stipulate that commercial truck drivers limit the amount of time they spend on the road each day. Drivers are limited to 14 hours of consecutive driving, provided they have been off-duty for at least ten hours prior. However, over the past decade more than 300 oil and gas workers have been killed in highway crashes. There is an oilfield exemption regarding truck drivers’ hours, which allows drivers to wait on site for extended periods of time before driving. This exemption has led to dangerous numbers of workers staying awake for longer periods of time, and then driving long hours on roads at high speeds. Although the number of Americans who are killed in car accidents has been falling annually, the number of deaths from crashes involving large trucks has been growing. These drivers have jobs with fatality rates seven times higher than the national average across industries.

Companies in the Eagle Ford Shale and Operating Large Trucks for Oil and Gas Transport

The Eagle Ford Shale depository has drawn more than 200 active operators to the 30 county area in Texas north of Gonzales, and down to the Webb County at the Texas border. Some of these firms include:

  • Apache Corp
  • BP
  • Burnett Oil
  • Chesapeake Energy
  • Exxon-XTO
  • GeoResources Inc.
  • Hunt Oil
  • Lewis Energy Group
  • Reliance Industries
  • Shell
  • Swift Energy
  • Texon Petroleum
  • ZaZa Energy

The economic impact of Eagle Ford Shale, and the influx of businesses flocking to Texas will have short and long-run economic changes that will benefit and challenge local governments for the foreseeable future.

How to Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at Tate Law Offices

The truck accident lawyers and personal injury lawyers at Tate Law Offices have a wealth of experience with the Texas DOT and the Federal laws regarding transport and fleet vehicles, including oil and gas trucks, tankers and other trucks necessary to build and maintenance oil rigs. We are here to help clients injured by trucks and truck drivers that act negligently or break the laws governing the operation of large oil and gas trucks and other transportation trucks. Over the recent years, these truck have increasingly caused harm to other motorists on the busy roadways of the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas boom, due to rapid production growth that has caused trucking companies to behave in ways that are often unsafe and lead to life-changing or catastrophic injuries and accidents. Our Texas truck accident lawyers have achieved substantial settlements for our clients in numerous and varied personal injury cases, especially those involving trucks such as semis, 18 wheelers, tankers, tractor trailers, fleet vehicles, big rigs, fuel carriers, and other large corporate vehicles that often making sharing of highways, interstates and roadways dangerous transportation routes due to the desire to decrease transportation costs and improve delivery times. We represent injury victims throughout Texas and the region. We have offices in the  cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. To speak with us directly or arrange an appointment at the location of your choice call us at 888-662-3892. Our lawyers will speak at no charge, explore  your legal options, and determine the best strategy to maximize the value of your injury case, so that you can be compensated fairly and as completely as possible for your losses due to injuries sustained while involved in a truck accident or other accident. If you prefer, you may also contact us via chat or email (via the contact form on each page of this the Tate Law Offices website). You may contact us 24/7 no matter the method you chose. We are here to talk your call, chat with your or receive your message 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The truck accident attorneys at Tate Law Offices, look forward to speaking with you at 888-662-3892 or learning about your case via your preferred contact option.

“Big Rigs” image based on “Big Rigs” by Dave_7, CC-BY-2.0.