In the latest in a series by the New York Times examining the oil boom and its associated risks, Ian Urbina writes that workers in the oil and gas industry face the greatest dangers on our nation’s roads and highways, going to and from well sites on the Eagle Ford Shale, for instance, not while actually working on the well sites themselves.
Not to say that oil and gas workers don’t already face great risk from rig blowouts and moving equipment, which represent an ever-present danger, but truck accidents are apparently the largest cause of death in the oil and gas industry, as Urbina reports.
And to top it off, there are some exemptions to the hours-of-service rules that allow some oil and gas truck drivers to drive longer than other commercial truck drivers are allowed to drive. This has organizations like the National Transportation Safety Board, which opposes the exemptions, understandably upset, given that there will be hundreds of thousands of new well sites drilled in the coming years.
And there will be hundreds of truck driving trips made for every one of those wells.
Urbina characterizes the exemptions as “bending the rules,” but in truth, the trucking industry has always bent the rules when it comes to hours-of-service violations. Simply put, truck drivers often drive too long behind the wheel, causing serious accidents when they get distracted or fall asleep.