The Texas oil boom has brought with it increased truck traffic and an increase in accidents, prompting the Texas Dept. of Transportation (TxDOT) to launch a “Be Safe, Drive Smart” campaign aimed at reminding drivers to be extra careful when driving around trucks in energy work zones.
New life in the oil and gas industry means more heavy trucks on the roads, said Carol Rawson, traffic operations division director TxDOT at a press conference last week, and that means that passenger vehicle drivers — as well as truck drivers — need to be even more careful to stay safe.
Dept. of Public Safety Maj. Michael Bradberry said that the revival of the oil and gas industry has led to spikes in the numbers of accidents on U.S. 67 and U.S. 377, Texas 171 and many of the farm-to-market and county roads in the area. He said region-wide accidents rose by 24% last year, according to a Weatherford Democrat report.
DPS officers in the 16 Barnett Shale counties in 2012 made 17,559 inspections on trucks associated with the oil and gas industry, and that in 3,938 of those inspections, either the truck or the driver was put out of service because of safety violations, Bradberry said.
“We are working to increase safety by putting more troopers on the roads, which means a reduction in the hazardous conditions, a reduction in violations and a reduction in crashes,” he said.
Bradberry stressed the need to follow the basics of safe driving, and said that drivers need to remember that rural roads can be just as hazardous as urban traffic. “Drivers tend to be not as aware on the rural roads, but it’s just as dangerous. There are actually even more hazards, like the chance of dust clouds and that there are fewer lanes, which means fewer routes of escape if something happens. Drivers on rural roads need to be extra vigilant, Bradberry said, adding that 54 percent of fatal crashes in Texas happen on rural roadways.
The idea behind the “Be Safe. Drive Smart” campaign is to stress basic safety precautions, such as:
- Always wear a seatbelt.
- Don’t drive drowsy.
- Drive a safe speed that takes into account traffic, road conditions and weather.
- Stop for all stop signs and red lights.
- Pass carefully.
- Don’t drive distracted, which includes not texting or talking on cellphones.
- Never drink and drive.
For more information about the Texas Department of Transportation and about the “Be safe. Drive smart,” campaign, visit www.txdot.gov.