TxDOT Issues Emergency Rule to Address Increased Accident Rates
Along with the booming natural gas industry, Texas traffic accident rates have exploded. Texas traffic fatalities have risen even as other state’s rates have consistently continued to decline. Fortunately, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has decided to take action. Plans are underway to lower the speed limit in drilling areas, a move that could substantially reverse this undesirable trend.
51 Percent Increase in Commercial Vehicle Wreck Fatalities
Traffic deaths have risen in Texas by eight percent from 3,122 in 2009 to 3,378 in 2013, while traffic deaths declined in most other states. During the same period, deaths caused by commercial vehicle crashes rose by 51 percent from 352 to 532 in Texas. The major drilling regions of West and South Texas experienced a more than 240 percent spike in fatal commercial vehicle crashes in the same five-year period. The incredible spike in traffic deaths coincides with the heavy flow of thousands of tractor-trailers and drilling equipment travelling constantly to and from well sites and hauling gas, water and toxic drilling materials.
This urgent problem calls for an immediate solution. Therefore, the TxDOT is adopting an emergency rule that allows the agency to lower the speed limit by up to 12 mph within four weeks, as opposed to the several months typically required to change the speed limit through the regular review process.