West Texas Oil Surge and Truck Accidents
Locals in West Texas have begun referring to U.S. Route 285 as “Death Highway” after 93 people were killed in truck accidents on the Texas-side of the Permian Basin alone, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported. The total was a 43% increase from 2012, according to article.
The Reporter-Telegram suggested that the increase in truck accident deaths correlated to an increase in oil prices. Fatalities decreased in 2015 before the surge last year created a need for more truck drivers. Truck accidents seem to be more common because newer drivers may lack experience handling their vehicles and veteran drivers may be exhausted from working an unsafe number of hours.
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a truck accident in the Permian Basin or elsewhere in West Texas? If so, the truck accident attorneys of Tate Law Offices, P.C., are here to help you seek justice. We can answer all of your legal questions during a free consultation as soon as you call or contact us online.
What Is the Permian Basin?
The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) defines the Permian Basin as “an oil-and-gas-producing area located in West Texas and the adjoining area of southeastern New Mexico.” It covers an area approximately 250 miles wide and 300 miles long, composed of over 7,000 fields.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UT Permian Basin) reported that the Permian Basin produces more than 1 million barrels of oil every day, accounting for 20% of production in the lower 48 states, 68% of Texas’s total production, and 80% of Texas’s reserves. The Permian Basin also produces almost 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the Permian region accounted for 4,136,000 barrels a day in oil production and 14,117 million cubic feet of gas production, both the most of any of the seven tracked regions. The EIA also reported that legacy oil and gas production has declined since 2010, although new-well production has increased since 2016.
Why Are Truck Accidents More Common During the Oil Surge?
In December 2018, the Fort Stockton Pioneer reported that the Texas Transportation Commission had approved a request to lower speed limits on five highways in the Odessa District, including 65 mph on US 285 from the New Mexico state line to the northern city limits of Pecos, and 65 mph on Texas State Highway 302 from Notrees to US 285.
Common Causes of Accidents Involving Oil Trucks
Speeding trucks attempting to make deliveries quickly are certainly a significant cause of many truck accidents, but there are many other common causes as well.
The shortage of truck drivers nationally has left many companies struggling to find drivers. Desperate companies may hire inexperienced or unqualified drivers and put them behind the wheel before they are ready to make oil, water, sand, steel pipes, or fuel deliveries.
Truck drivers who are still new to the profession can be much more likely to commit any one of a number of errors that can cause an accident. Many of these kinds of drivers require additional training that companies decide they do not have the time to provide.
Another common cause of all truck accidents is simply driver fatigue. As the Midlands Reporter-Telegram noted, drivers can easily make $120,000 a year, but experienced truck driver James “Whiskey” Stroup told the newspaper that the money does come with consequences.
“When you’ve been in the oilfield for 10 to 11 days, working 14 hours a day, you just become so tired that you’re not thinking straight,” Stroup told the Reporter-Telegram. “You’re just brain dead, because you’re living off four to six hours of sleep.”
Some truck accidents are not the fault of drivers, but actually involve defective or poorly maintained vehicles. When a company does not properly care for its truck, any one of a number of problems could arise while cargo is being transported.
According to Houston Public Media, the Odessa District ranked first out of all Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) districts in the number of fatal commercial motor vehicle crashes and accounted for 15% of the total despite only accounting for about 1.5% of the state population.
There was a 160% increase in the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes from 2016 to 2018, and commercial motor vehicle fatalities increased 120% from 2016 to 2018.
How Can Tate Law Offices, P.C., Help Me After a Truck Accident in West Texas
Tate Law Offices, P.C., can immediately conduct an independent investigation of your crash to collect evidence, determine the cause, and identify all potentially liable parties. Truck accidents can be far more complicated than other passenger vehicle crashes because multiple parties –from a truck driver to a trucking company to a part manufacturer, among others – could be responsible for the crash and for paying compensation to victims.
Our firm will step in to handle all phone calls you receive from insurance companies, who will be seeking to find reasons to deny you compensation as soon as they call. Never provide any recorded statement to an insurer and do not sign any paperwork presented to you at the scene of the crash or in your hospital room until you have an attorney.
If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a truck accident in the Permian Basin, do not delay in getting yourself legal representation. Talk to a lawyer before you speak to any insurance company representative or anyone from the trucking company.