Many workers involved in Texas’ booming oil industry face a great deal of danger when hitting the highways. Truck accidents are occurring more frequently all across the country, and oil and gas workers in particular are at risk. A recent study shows that these workers are 8.5 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than people who work in other occupations.

From 2003 to 2009, oil-field workers in Texas made up over 30 percent of oil-field traffic fatalities. During that time, motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of work-related deaths in the oil and gas industry. Many of these fatalities include people who worked for drilling contractors and well-service companies. In fact, employees of small well-service companies are even more likely to be involved in a fatal truck accident. Smaller companies are less likely to have appropriate safety and training programs for their employees.

Many people are aware of the dangers of commercial trucks, but pickup trucks are proving to be especially troublesome. Pickups are involved in a majority of the industry’s fatal accidents, but drivers are still not required to have a commercial license to drive one.

The study indicates that a lack of seatbelt use continues to be a major cause of these fatal accidents. Because many oil-field workers are young men who like to take risks, wearing a seatbelt is not at all a priority in the industry. Long driving hours on rural roads and driver fatigue also contribute to traffic fatalities. The Texas Department of Transportation is working diligently to implement safety programs to prevent these tragedies from happening.

Source: Fuel Fix, “Oilfield workers at higher risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents,” Jeannie Kever, Jan. 18, 2013