Texas is the number one state for oil and gas production. While this has resulted in an increase in jobs across the state, it has also led to an increase in deaths on the road. In fact, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, nearly half of all traffic deaths in the state come from energy-producing areas.
In Texas, oil and gas production occurs mainly in the Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Granite Wash, Haynesville/Bossier Shale, and the Permian Basin. In 2018, more than 1,600 people died and more than 6,000 were injured in severe crashes in these areas. This was a 4 percent increase from the previous year. According to crash reports, speeding and distracted driving were the main factors in these traffic collisions.
What Makes Energy Producing Areas So Deadly?
Energy producing areas of Texas typically have numerous heavy trucks on the road at all times. These trucks are transporting various products to and from oil and gas areas. An increase of heavy trucks on the road means that drivers must use even more caution when sharing the road and driving.
From 2009 to 2013, highway deaths in Texas involving large commercial vehicles increased by 53 percent. During that time, oil and gas production in the area was booming as well.
Roads in those areas are not always built to handle large tankers, trucks, and vans going to and from oil fields. This results in traffic congestion and tired truck drivers.
In an effort to help reduce the number of crossover accidents that occur on two-lane highways, TxDOT has begun installing cable barriers.
Texas Combats Increase in Traffic Fatalities with Safety Campaign
To help reduce the number of traffic fatalities in Texas, and especially throughout the energy-producing areas of Texas, the Department of Transportation kicked off its annual “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign. This campaign’s main goal is to raise safety awareness and help remind drivers to use caution on the roads.
Some of the campaign’s reminders include:
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Always drive at a safe speed, especially in inclement weather
- Focus all your attention on driving
- Put your phone away
- Give large trucks extra space on the road
- Obey all traffic signals and signs
- Never drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
This campaign is a small part of an even bigger campaign throughout Texas known as the #EndTheStreakTX campaign. This social media campaign encourages drivers to make safe choices when behind the wheel to end the streak of traffic deaths. According to the data, the last day with no fatalities on Texas roads was November 7, 2000. Through public awareness and safety campaigns, Texas officials are hopeful they can break the traffic fatality streak.
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