According to the Texas Department of Transportation, “booming” economic activity in the Lone Star state’s five main oil and gas production regions – Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, Granite Wash, Haynesville/Bossier Shale and Permian Basin – is generating a spike in traffic fatalities and injuries; an increase the agency blames on failure to control speed, driver inattention, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
TxDOT noted in a Feb. 19 statement that more than 194,000 crashes occurred in those five regions in 2017 – an average of 532 per day – resulting in 1,614 deaths and 7,422 serious injuries, which is a slight increase over 2016.
“Increased traffic and larger, heavier vehicles are changing driving conditions in many parts of Texas,” noted Texas Transportation Commissioner Alvin New. “We’re working with state, federal, local and industry partners to address safety and congestion, and we’re also reminding motorists to be safe and drive smart by following all traffic laws, giving their full attention to the road, and being cautious around the many water, sand and heavy equipment trucks traveling through energy-producing areas.”
TxDOT noted that it is planning to host community events this month in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale featuring a new interactive public engagement exhibit outfitted with a variety of games and video displays that educate visitors about the importance of safe and smart driving in high-traffic oil and gas production areas.
[Those efforts dovetail with the agency’s “Be Safe/Drive Smart” campaign; a larger grassroots effort that aims to get drivers to make safer choices while on the road. That effort drew the support of 10-year-old Cooper McGough testified before the Texas Transportation Commission on Feb. 19 to #EndTheStreakTX for his fifth grade #scienceproject.]
In addition to raising public awareness about crash prevention steps, TxDOT said it is “committed” to repairing and improving roads in the state’s energy-production areas.
The Texas Transportation Commission also added that it is directing $3.4 billion to make repairs and improve roads in the booming Permian Basin over the next decade alone, for while only 2 percent of Texans live in the Permian Basin region, 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in the Lone Star state occurred there in 2017.