On Friday, March 15, TxDOT launched a new effort to save lives as the oil and gas industry booms in Texas. Representatives from government agencies and energy associations were present at the Karnes County Offices on the Square in Karnes City to launch TxDOT’s newest safety campaign. Members of the news media and other guests were also present for the event.
“Historically, south Texas has not been an area where traffic was a concern, but now with a re-energized oil and gas industry, driving conditions have changed,” said John Barton, TxDOT’s deputy executive director. “Passenger vehicles are now sharing rural roads with more and more heavy trucks, and that’s a recipe for trouble when drivers don’t obey traffic laws, slow down or pay attention.”
The new Be Safe. Drive Smart. campaign urges all drivers to take the following basic safety precautions: buckle up; drive a safe speed; pass carefully; always stop at red lights and stop signs; and avoid using cell phones while driving.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is joining TxDOT in this effort to promote this important initiative.
“DPS has a responsibility to protect travelers on our roadways, and we urge all drivers — commercial and passenger — to do their part to keep our roads safe,” said DPS Region 4 Commander Carey Matthews. “Drivers will continue to see periodic DPS special enforcement operations in areas with increased truck traffic, which are designed to enforce commercial vehicle regulatory requirements and discourage dangerous driving by passenger vehicles.”
Preliminary TxDOT crash reports indicate there were 2,723 fatal and serious injury crashes and 248 traffic fatalities in 2012 in the Eagle Ford Shale energy sector, a 23-county region that covers an area 250 miles wide and 300 miles long. The death count represents a 40 percent increase in roadway fatalities over the previous year. The leading causes of these crashes according to law enforcement were failure to control speed and driver inattention. Almost half of fatal and serious injury crashes involved a single vehicle, and commercial trucks were involved in seven percent of reported crashes in which someone was killed or seriously injured. The most dangerous time of day was between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
TxDOT is partnering with oil and gas companies, the Texas Department of Public Safety and communities across the Permian Basin to promote roadway safety. The campaign will include safety messages on TV, radio, billboards and gas pumps in the area.