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Highway Deaths on the Rise for Oil Field Truckers

Earlier today, our Chicago truck accident attorney Steven Levin read a news report posted on NYTimes.com revealing the deadly dangers associated with oil workers and highway travel.

In one particular case, after working 17 hours straight at a natural gas well, four crew members traveled in their company truck for an additional four hour driver back to their drilling service company’s shop. When the crew was roughly 10 minutes from home, the driver fell asleep at the wheel. This caused the truck to travel off the highway – subsequently slamming into a sign that sheared off part of the vehicle’s side. The accident resulted in one fatality.

However, our Chicago truck accident lawyer learned that two months prior to the fatal accident, the accident victim nearly died in a surprisingly similar accident. The accident occurred when another crew member fell asleep behind the wheel after a grueling shift and slammed the company’s truck into a pole. It was revealed that in 2009, the victim’s company was penalized in three states for violations that included “requiring or permitting” oil field trucks to driver after working 14 hours.

The article reports that within the past several years, roughly more than 300 oil and gas workers have died in highway crashes – the largest cause of fatalities in the industry. Safety and health experts attribute these deaths due in part to the fact that oil field workers are granted exemptions from highway safety rules that permit truckers to work longer hours than drivers in a number of other industries – such as the large commercial vehicle industry.

Although the National Transportation Safety Board released a statement saying that they are strongly opposed to oil field exemptions because they increase the risks of crashes, not much has been done to change regulations. According to a statement released by the C.D.C., unless changes are made to increase worker safety, the highway fatality rate is likely to continue. All the while, some experts have called for an increased oversight to help decrease the epidemic.

Our Chicago truck accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti urge lawmakers to update rules and regulations pertaining to oil field truckers in order to help decrease the increasing number of tragically premature fatalities. Worker safety, as well as, the safety of the traveling public should always remain a top priority in order to ensure that our nation’s roadways are a safe place to travel.