The number of auto accidents involving three or more deaths has more than doubled in Texas since 2010, with more fatalities occurring along roads seeing increased traffic because of the oil and gas boom.
An investigation by the Houston Chronicle found the number of accidents with at least three deaths increased from 72 in 2010 to 148 last year.
Law enforcement reports do not specify whether the accidents involved oil and gas vehicles. But roads with more oil field-related traffic have seen a greater number of accidents than other major roadways across the state.
Interstate 20, which runs from oil boom cities such as Midland and Odessa and other towns in the oil rich Permian Basin in West Texas to Dallas and beyond, has had 13 accidents with three or more fatalities since 2010. That’s twice as many as I-10, a longer more transited highway that crossed the state from El Paso to Beaumont.
Texas 72, a 111-mile long state road that serves oil boom towns such as Tilden and Three Rivers in the Eagle Ford Shale, has seen 21 fatal accidents since 2011, four of them involving three or more deaths.
“It’s called death row because we’ve had so many accidents,” Live Oak County Sheriff Larry Busby said.
The upward trend happens as the nation has experienced a steady decline in vehicle accident-related deaths. Since the oil boom started in 2008, Texas has led the country in vehicle accident deaths, federal records show.
Studies show oil field workers are 8.5 times more likely to die in a crash than other private employees.
Oil field workers typically work two-week shifts of 12 hour days and have long commutes, which according to experts, contributes to driver fatigue.
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