It might come as a surprise, but one of the leading causes of all worker fatalities in the oil industry has been highway and transportation accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the majority of all job-related vehicle crashes in the oil industry have occurred in truck accidents.
Their findings were based on a 2014 study that showed 101 oilfield workers were killed in on-the-job accidents. Of those, 28 were transportation-related crashes. This number is unique to the oilfield industry, especially if you consider the other type of deaths that occur in the same period. Highway fatalities account for only a small portion of all work-related deaths.
Those who know the oil industry believe this fatality number will grow because more than 200,000 new oil wells are expected to open in the next decade. Most of these will use hydraulic fracturing that will require a large amount of water to work efficiently. Often, the water must be shipped onsite by truck from another site. That means overworked oilfield workers will travel long distances to complete the task. Too often, driving while fatigued has caused dangerous and deadly truck and car accidents.
Why oilfield workers are dangerously fatigued
Driver fatigue is the leading cause of all oil industry truck accidents. Considering the seriousness of this issue, many within the industry want to get a better handle on the situation before more deaths occur. Critics will point to the lax regulations in driver safety as being the biggest contributor to this issue. They urge regulators to set stricter rest time rules, especially if the industry demands their workers to log long hours on the road. This is the only course to lowering the death rate among oil industry truck drivers.
Currently, commercial truck drivers are required to stop driving after 14 hours on the road. This isn’t the case for truckers working in the oil industry, though. They are able to exclude time at the oilfield waiting for a crew to finish their shift. Typically, commercial truck drivers must take off for at least 34 hours if they have logged 60 hours in one work week. Oil industry drivers are required to take one day off after working too long the day before. A demand of this nature often leaves truckers with fatigue, and others sharing the road with them are placed in danger.
Why don’t mandatory rest times apply in the oil and gas industry?
There doesn’t seem to be a valid explanation on why oil and gas truck drivers have an exemption from mandatory rest time. This puts all drivers at risk.
The rules that govern commercial truck drivers were created for a specific reason. All parties who helped create them were aware of driver’s fatigue and the potential for serious vehicle accidents. Most people in the industry probably recognize the dangers of having a tired driver behind the wheel of a commercial truck. Unfortunately, the lack of safety rules within the industry has not been addressed. Too often, steps are taken by executives to circumvent the rules and keep their drivers on the road well past the end of their normal workday.
The safety of all drivers is at risk
This issue is not limited to oilfield workers. Too many innocent passenger vehicle drivers are at high risk, and are often the victims of an accident with a commercial truck. Those who are in charge of the regulations that deal with driver work hours may be responsible for the increased risk.
It is crucial for the oil industry to obey the rules and hold those accountable for their actions if they have been proven to cause an accident. Commercial trucks aren’t the only vehicles on the road, but too often, other drivers are victims of meaningless collisions with larger vehicles.
What to do if you have been in a truck accident
If you have been involved in a Truck Accident in the Oilfield, or on the road, it is best to seek compensation as soon as possible. Whether you are an oilfield worker or the driver of a passenger vehicle, contacting a personal injury attorney can help. Attorneys who are familiar with both personal injury law and oil and gas accidents will be able to fight for you.
Contact Attorney Dean Boyd for more information on how we can help with your claim. You can call us at (806) 242-3333 or Contact Us by email to learn more about our Services. You can also visit our offices at 4423 SW 45th Avenue in Amarillo, Texas or 5012 50th St #103 in Lubbock, Texas to visit with our caring team.