Fatal truck accidents have been on the rise as rural roads struggle to cope
The Eagle Ford Shale boom has created jobs and prosperity for many Texans, but there has been a far less welcome side effect of the economic growth: a rapid increase in truck accidents in the state. According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas' energy boom has led to a huge spike in truck accidents as small rural roads struggle to cope with increased traffic demands. The issue has become so serious that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has used an emergency rule to lower speed limits in affected areas.
Texas leads in accidents
Traffic fatalities have steadily declined across the U.S. for the past six decades as a result of safer driving behaviors, increased seatbelt use, and tougher laws against reckless and dangerous drivers. Since Texas' energy boom began in 2008, however, the state has defied that nationwide trend and accidents here have since been on the upswing.
In fact, the state has since surpassed California for the most traffic fatalities, with the level reaching 3,378 such fatalities in 2013. The main cause for the increase has been commercial vehicle accidents. Between 2009 and 2013, deaths linked to commercial vehicle accidents, which include big rigs in the Eagle Ford Shale area, went up by 51 percent.
The issue has become increasingly frustrating for state authorities who are resorting to unusual measures to combat the deteriorating safety conditions. According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, TxDOT recently announced it would be using an emergency rule change to lower the speed limit by 12 mph along state highways worst affected by the increased number of accidents.
The emergency rule change allows TxDOT to bypass a study that would usually be required to lower speed limits and to instead rely on crash statistics to determine which highways will be eligible for the changes. While the department has yet to say which roads will be affected, Bee County is likely to be a prime candidate given that the crash rate in the county is three times higher than the state average.
Truck accidents are particularly dangerous for Texas' drivers, as the above story demonstrates. Large tractor-trailers have the potential to inflict massive damage on smaller vehicles and people who are involved in such accidents often suffer catastrophic and even life-threatening injuries.
People who have been the victims of truck accidents should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. In some cases, a truck accident may have been at least partially caused by fatigue, distraction, or impairment on the part of the truck driver or, in other cases, the trucking company may have improperly maintained its vehicle. Such issues can lead to serious but complicated liability issues and victims will want the assistance of an experienced attorney when learning about what steps to take after an accident has happened.