Eagle Ford Shale boom leads to increase in truck accidents

Once quiet rural roads are seeing a huge increase in collisions

The economic boom that the Eagle Ford Shale region is experiencing is also leading to a huge increase in the number of traffic accidents, particularly those involving commercial vehicles, according to the San Antonio Express-News. In 2013, the 23-county area from Laredo to near Huntsville saw a 26 percent increase in accidents compared to the previous year.

Accidents increase, fatalities down

There was a small glimmer of good news in the data covering those same 23 counties. While overall accidents had increased to 3,430, the number of fatalities was actually down from 248 in 2012 to 236 in 2013.

According to LaSalle County Judge Joel Rodriguez Jr., however, the number of fatalities may actually be higher. He says that fatalities are actually underreported because many people are injured in car crashes in the region, but only pass away once they arrive at hospitals in San Antonio or Laredo.

Indeed, some counties are reporting a staggering increase in accidents, especially ones involving commercial vehicles. In LaSalle, Dimmit, and Karnes counties, for example, a 470 percent increase in accidents involving commercial vehicles was recorded between 2009 and 2011. Meanwhile, according to the Houston Chronicle, in nearby McMullen County the number of commercial vehicle accidents increased from four in 2008 to 46 in 2011.

Authorities urge safety

The increase in traffic accidents is leading law enforcement officials and public safety campaigners to step up their efforts in promoting safe driving. The "Be Safe. Drive Smart" campaign, for example, is trying to get the word out to drivers to be aware of commercial vehicles and to give trucks plenty of space on the road.

Law enforcement officials say most of the crashes are caused by speeding or driver inattention. Because many of the roads in the region are small two-lane rural roads, passing a large truck becomes even more difficult for other vehicles, leading to an overall increase in the number of accidents.

Furthermore, the Department of Public Safety identified car crashes in the Eagle Ford Shale region as being one of the greatest threats to the safety of Texans, alongside natural disasters and drug cartels. As the economic boom looks set to continue, it is expected that traffic accidents are also likely to keep rising.

Truck accidents give rise to complicated liability issues

The increase in traffic accidents in the Eagle Ford Shale region is a reminder of just how dangerous truck accidents are compared to other vehicular accidents. Because of the size of these vehicles, the likelihood of serious injury or death increases significantly in truck accidents.

Also, due to the mix of federal and state regulations, driver and company liability, and a host of other factors, litigation surrounding truck accidents is also extremely complicated. Due to this increased complexity, anybody who has been injured or has a loved one who has been killed in a truck accident should seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer who knows how truck accident liability issues differ from other forms of liability. Such a lawyer can help clients navigate the tangled web of legal issues surrounding truck accidents so that the at-fault parties can be held accountable.