Officials take emergency measures to combat truck crash deaths

Soaring fatality rate in drilling regions leads to unusual speed limit change

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is instituting an emergency rule change to lower speed limits on rural roads with high motor vehicle accident rates, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. The move will mostly affect rural areas impacted by the energy boom, where oil drilling has led to a dramatic increase in the number of truck accidents. The problem has become so severe that authorities have resorted to a number of unusual measures to make rural roads safer.

Highest accident rate

Ever since the energy boom began in 2008, Texas has led the nation in the number of truck accident fatalities. While accident fatalities have largely declined or stabilized in the rest of the country, they have climbed steeply in Texas. In drilling regions the fatal accident rate involving commercial vehicles soared by a staggering 240 percent between 2009 and 2013, while going up 50 percent in the rest of the state.

According to the Houston Chronicle, one of the biggest problems has been driver fatigue. With many oil workers working 20-hour shifts or more, accidents caused by such workers falling asleep behind the wheel have become a big problem. Other problems include trucking companies failing to comply with safety regulations and trucks being poorly maintained.

Combating the problem

While the drilling boom has led to economic prosperity in many regions, it also means that small rural roads are being used to carry traffic that they were not designed to carry. Officials say a lack of funding has so far made it difficult to upgrade rural roads to handle the increased traffic. Because of a voter-approved measure, however, tax revenue from the energy sector will soon be set aside to improve the state's roads and highways.

In the meantime, TxDOT will be using an emergency rule change to bypass a review process and lower the speed limit by up to 12 mph on many rural two-way, two-lane roads within the next couple weeks. The change follows previous efforts, such as converting paved roads to gravel, which proved highly unpopular but which the department claimed would make the roads safer.

Truck accident representation

Truck accidents have become a daily safety concern for Texan drivers, especially in regions affected by the drilling boom. In many cases, these accidents are the result of drivers and trucking companies failing to follow safety guidelines.

Anybody injured in a truck accident should get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Truck accidents often give rise to complicated liability issues since the driver, operator, and trucking company may all have played a part in an accident. These complications mean truck accident victims will want the expert representation that can only be provided by an attorney experienced in truck accident claims and compensation.