The roads in Corpus Christi, Texas, and nearby areas are suffering the side effects of hydraulic fracturing. The heavy equipment and frequent use of the roads leading to the Eagle Ford Shale formation mean extreme wear and tear. When this combines with the potential for fatigued truck drivers, residents and workers alike face a dangerous situation.
Hydraulic Fracturing’s Toll on the Roads
The hydraulic fracturing process (also known as “fracking”) requires significant amounts of heavy materials such as water, which weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon. In most cases, the water and other materials are brought to the wells by truck. In fact, one well can add the equivalent of 8 million car trips to the roads leading back and forth. The trucks travel over roads that have not been designed for such intense use, causing damage such as narrow patches of road, drop-offs at the edges and potholes.
Local and state governments are ill-prepared to pay for the damage to the roads or to rebuild a new network of stronger roads. The industry has not paid for all the damage the trucks have caused. While both the private and public sectors are studying the problem and seeking solutions, many of the roads remain in dangerously poor repair.
Long Hours and Heavy Loads for Texas Truck Drivers
A blend of roads in disrepair and truckers suffering from fatigue could lead to serious accidents.
Numerous accidents involving trucks occur because of driver fatigue. Fatigue causes delayed reactions and reflexes. When the roads are not well maintained, a driver who is exhausted is less likely to navigate the terrain with due care.
It is difficult for many industries to find qualified truck drivers, which can lead to a push for longer working hours. Federal law provides strict requirements for hours worked for trucks of a certain weight, although smaller trucks do not face the same rules.
Additional accident risks are presented by the materials and equipment the trucks are carrying to and from the Texas oil fields. These materials make the trucks heavier and more dangerous to drivers in smaller vehicles.
Texas drivers who survive crashes with large trucks often face severe injuries such as brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. Until the crumbling roads receive the attention they need, Texans should drive with extra care near the oil fields.
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