Oilfield Truck Wrecks

Accident reports often blame oilfield truck drivers for the collisions they cause.  The truth is usually much more complex and leads back to trucking company management. Sketchy training for drivers and poor truck maintenance are just two of many factors that cause big rigs to be so dangerous.

Eagle Ford Shale oilfield truck wrecks

For these trucking companies working in the Eagle Ford Shale, time is money … and it costs time and money to make sure drivers are properly trained, to make sure trucks are properly maintained.

In Pennsylvania — a state where an oilfield boom has be underway for well over a decade — the state police reports that 40 percent of 2,200 oil and gas industry trucks inspected from 2009 to this February were in such bad condition that they had to be taken off the roads. In Texas, the Department of Public Safety has found that up to 25 percent of all big rigs — not just oilfield trucks — fail routine safety inspections and have to be sidelined.

For example, it’s not uncommon that oilfield drivers along the Eagle Ford are forced into working a 20-hour shift and be provided a rig with bad brakes, bald tires and other defects and that would fail even the most cursory of safety inspections.

A 2009 study of post-crash trucks showed that 55 percent had a mechanical violation and, incredibly, almost one-third of them had an “out of service” violation that should’ve kept the truck off the road completely. Hour of service and log rules are also frequently broken and that leads to many crashes.  For example, 30 percent of truckers admit in surveys to falsifying logs.

According to a recent story in the New York Times, over the last decade, more than 300 oilfield truck drivers have been killed.  The number of other drivers who died in those wrecks is unknown, but it’s likely far higher than the number of oilfield truck drivers who died.

In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that oilfield truck fatalities rose 15 percent from 2003 to 2004, and that the rate was steadily increasing. At the time, the CDC attributed the rise to longer shifts, inexperienced drivers and poorly maintained trucks.

Our office is involved in one Karnes County, Texas case where the truck lacked the simplest of emergency equipment required by law.

The general public supports the oil companies that have brought this economic windfall to the communities along the Eagle Ford Shale and no one wants to make it difficult for them to realize a return on their investment. However, when those companies fail at being good neighbors and good corporate citizens, they must be held accountable.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a wreck with one of these trucks, contact our office today for professional insight. We’ll come to you.

Sources:
•    The New York Times: Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig bout on the Road
•    Texas Department of Public Safety: DPS places 1,738 vehicles, 160 drivers out of service during Roadcheck 2010 operation (06/21/10)
•    WOAI: Fracking Boom Blamed for Deadly Accidents
•    KENS5: Oil Bloom’s gloom
•    MySouTex.com: Karnes County officials kick off ‘Keeping Karnes County Safe’ campaign