On May 14, 2012, the New York Times published an article on the alarmingly large number of deaths of oil and gas workers travelling on U.S. highways. These fatalities are often a result of highway safety exemptions allotted to these types of workers, rules that permit drivers from the oil & gas industry to work more hours than motorists from other industries.
According to the article, in the past ten years, more than 300 oil and gas employees have lost their lives in highway accidents. Furthermore, from 2009 to 2010, the number of fatalities from crashes involving large trucks increased by 8.7%. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC) also indicated that approximately one-third of the 648 oil field worker fatalities from 2003 to 2008 occurred in highway accidents.
This problem is particularly troublesome in a growing field such as the oil and gas industry. Officials indicate that a significant number of new oil and gas wells, more than 200,000 in the next ten years, will be drilled across the country. Oil and gas sites often use a drilling technique known as “hydraulic fracturing” which necessitates the use of large amounts of water. The transportation of these large amounts of water will in turn increase the number of oil and gas field workers on the road in the future.
The exemptions for oil and gas truckers allow these workers to be on highways for longer periods of time than other commercial motorists. These exemptions were approved in the 1960s by federal highway authorities when oil and gas industry officials argued that their truckers needed more flexible working schedules. Although numerous safety advocates have called for the removal of these exemptions, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has not agreed to their elimination.
See the full New York Times article at:
See the accompanying graphs to the article at:
See the accompanying research documents to the article at:
See research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding fatalities among oil and gas extraction workers: