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Why oilfield tanker traffic is dangerous to rural communities

If there’s one vehicle that can cause the most turmoil and stress on the road, it’s likely the oilfield tanker truck. Between them being massive on the road, difficult to operate if a driver is suffering from a lack of sleep, and the risks they pose due to the contents they carry and local communities , there’s dozens of reasons why individuals try to pass them as soon as they can. However, it’s worth mentioning that oilfield tanker trucks cause more trouble than just passing by, as they ruin the roads and cause more fatalities in traffic than many assume. So with this being said, here’s a look at oilfield tanker trucks and the dangers they pose on the road.

Oil Truck Accidents

In 2014, an Associated Press article reported that 2,300 to 4,000 truck trips are required for fracking and to deliver the fluids, which requires up to 33-50% more travel than methods used conventionally. So in consideration of this data, it means that given the increased amount of truck traffic involved for transportation, it leads to more accidents. In the six states where drilling was prominent, the road fatalities had quadrupled since the year 2004 – which made vehicular accidents the source of fatality for gas and oil workers.

In Colorado, there was an instance where a truck had rolled over and spilled at least 8,000 gallons of oil. In North Dakota, traffic fatalities jumped up to 350 percent. It was also discovered that the roads in rural areas were already posing a risk for accidents, as some were twice as deadly per mile.

Driver Fatigue

Another issue that became a problem for the oilfield tanker industry was the trucker themselves. Although the truckers themselves weren’t responsible, it was the FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) who developed the Hours of Service Oilfield Exception. So what is this? Well, it’s a loophole that allowed gas and oil industries to pressure its drivers to work longer hours, which then creates an obvious hazard for anyone on the road.

In 2012 it was The New York Times who shed light on this issue in their piece titled Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road. This piece showcased documents regarding the Oil Field Exemptions From Highway Safety Rules and the truck drivers who were ignored. The piece then highlights their defense regarding the issue in 2012 to close such a loophole.

A major issue that comes with driver fatigue is the collateral damage that comes with it. Lack of enforcement, lack of inspection, and truck disrepair all add to this already lengthy list of problems. In Pennsylvania, the police force had to take roughly 40% of the 2,200 gas and oil trucks off of the road (from 2009 to 2012) due to the fact that they were in such bad shape. In Colorado, there was instances where drivers were required or allowed to drive after 14 hours (which is beyond the legal limit). So between the lack of sleep and vehicles unfit for their job, it only allows one to imagine the danger they may have been subjected to on the open road.

Oilfield Trucks & Road Damage

In 2013 a study was performed to investigate road damage and oilfield tanker trucks. The study discovered that a single fracking operation was likely to cause $13,000 to $23,000 dollars in damage – with taxpayers stuck with the bill. So how does this damage accumulate? Well, between the excessive weight of the loads and the trucks unfit for the jobs they’re performing, it’s easy to see how such damage can add up.

So in the event you’ve fallen victim to an oilfield tanker truck, we’ll be more than willing to take on your case as your oilfield truck accident lawyer. Feel free to contact us today for further information.

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