With the resounding boom that natural oil and gas drilling has had throughout the state, pro- and anti-fracking activists have been at extreme odds with one another about whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives. While that debate wears on, one things that neither side is likely considering is the number of fatal traffic accidents that have occurred due to the presence of giant industry trucks that haul heavy equipment along rural roads and highways, originally built mainly for passenger vehicle traffic.
A spokesperson from Shell has admitted that fatal accidents in fracking regions are "a key risk area of business." However, there seems to be no immediate plans to eradicate the problem, and stopping the Earth-fracturing process for safety logistical reasons is out of the question, according to Big Drilling.
Close to home, here in the tri-state area, families in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania still mourn the loss of their loved ones. Last year, two little boys were killed when they were crushed together by a fracking tanker truck in rural West Virginia. Two years ago, a Pennsylvania dad was killed by a tanker. And in other parts of the country where fracking is prevalent, motor vehicle fatalities are up...way up.
In Pennsylvania counties over the last ten years, where fracking doesn't take place, PennDoT has seen a 19% decrease in fatal accidents. In counties where fracking is pursued, a 4% increase. The numbers speak for themselves.
In general, the number of car accidents increase when there is more traffic--that's just plain logic. More traffic is the result of more people and more people is the result of an improving economy. However, in cases involving fracking industry vehicles, the number of fatalities in some regions is leaps beyond the growth in population.
Groups who have concerned themselves with the issue explain that booms in population and traffic are different when it comes to fracking, citing the fact that an average of about 3500 trips are needed to be taken by tankers and other industry vehicles in order to deliver the fluids necessary for drilling. Quite simply: that's a lot of trucks.
In addition to increased traffic, most of these small, rural towns do not yet have the infrastructure to start building better roadways or improve their traffic light technology.
The area where the two West Virginia boys were killed has seen a 42% increase in traffic fatalities over the past few years. The father tells reporters that he buried them both in the same casket and that his wife has suffered from terrible bouts of depression because of the ordeal.
Experts in the field admit that when a pocket of oil or gas is discovered, the changes come fast to these small, slow-moving communities. Drilling conglomerates clamber to nail down the best leases, then start drilling into the ground as soon as they can to produce results. In addition to locally-owned trucking companies, Big Drilling brings in its own trucks and, before long, the calamity ensues, and any new area experiencing a drilling booms just can't keep up.
If you have been injured by a fracking tanker or any other industry vehicle, please call the personal injury lawyers at Goodrich and Geist at 800-806-2456 for a free preliminary consultation. There are likely several entities at fault and we will exhaust all resources to obtain justice for you. You'll find our experience is what you need to advocate for you against Big Drilling conglomerates in a court of law. Call today.
Source: Powersource.Post-Gazette.com, "Drilling boom making traffic deadlier" 6 May 2014