Big rig wrecks are on the rise in South Texas, particularly in oil-dense areas where shale harvesting is becoming more popular.
Eagle Ford shale field in South Texas is now the number one shale play in the world, in terms of activity, with more than 200 rigs in operation. Texas' oil production as a whole has now surpassed the entire country of Iraq. Accompanying the increase of oil production hotspots in Texas is an increase in the number of big rig and commercial truck wrecks.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), fatal accidents surrounding the Eagle Ford Shale area rose by 40% from 2011-2012 – that's a total 2,723 crashes. Compare this number to the traffic crash data for 2013 that was just released, and you'll see that the trend continues. In 2013, the same Eagle Ford area saw 3,430 severe crashes.
Federal regulators continue to crack down on commercial trucking laws, but despite strict Hours of Service regulations, mandatory truck inspections, and required safety monitoring technology, the accidents continue to happen with shocking regularity.
One contributing factor might be the Oilfield Exemption, which is essentially a loophole oil companies can use to avoid compliance with the federal trucking regulations. This exemption could allow truckers on-duty time that far exceeds the standard for other truckers.
The oil boom is undoubtedly a good thing for Texas' economy, and the U.S. economy as a whole, but there is also no doubt that the boom is contributing to a much higher volume of commercial trucking crashes, and consequently, serious injuries and fatalities.