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Will oil price drops translate into fewer Texas truck accidents?

The most likely answer to the question posed in our headline is, probably not. Though that might seem to fly in the face of the logic we presented in an article not too long ago.

In that piece, we noted that rising energy prices boost the load of heavy truck traffic on roads throughout Texas. The logic was straightforward, the greater the demand for oil, the higher the number of commercial vehicles on the road. And with that there's a greater risk of truck accidents that result in serious injury or even death to innocent area residents.

In recent months, the price of oil has been in decline. And as has been widely reported this week, the drop is now prompting players in the energy industry to scale back their plans for oil and gas production next year.

Houston-based ConocoPhillips, the largest independent domestic oil and gas producer, says it plans to trim production spending by more than $3 billion compared to last year. Other major players in the industry are expected to take similar action. Analysts say job cuts are likely to be part of the mix, though none of the companies are willing to give specifics.

The reason why we suggest that the drop in oil prices won't result in a decline in potential truck accidents in our region is that ConocoPhillips says its production cuts will take place in areas other than the Eagle Ford in Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota. And the company says that despite the reductions of scale, it still intends to produce more product than it has this year.

What that seems to suggest for our region is that traffic, and the chances of hazardous truck accidents, are likely to increase as producers focus more of their attention here.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Oil price hits keep coming," Roberta Grattan, Dec. 8, 2014

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