"A spike in traffic fatalities" across the country from fracking

A recent AP article, "Deadly Side Effect to Fracking Boom," details the dangers of heavy industrial fracking in the midst of what were once safe communities. Some of the most upsetting findings of the AP investigation:

  • In North Dakota counties with fracking activity, the population increased 43 percent over the last ten years while traffic fatalities increased 350 percent.
  • In West Virginia counties with the most oil and gas activity, traffic fatalities rose 42 percent while they declined 8 percent in the rest of the state. Last year, a truck carrying frack water ran a stop sign, overturned, and crushed a car with two young boys in it, killing them both.
  • In Pennsylvania, traffic fatalities in counties with fracking rose 4 percent over ten years, while in the rest of the state they declined 19 percent.
  • In Texas, 21 Texas counties where drilling has recently expanded, deaths per 100,000 people are up an average of 18 percent, while in the rest of Texas they are down 20 percent.
  • Traffic accidents kill more oil and gas workers than any other cause.

Two years ago I blogged about this issue, after a New York Times article with evidence that some drivers are pressured to work more than 20 hours in one shift. Even though the National Transportation Safety Board has opposed special treatment for the oil and gas industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, allows the oil and gas industry to have a special exemption from truck safety rules.

One of the most tragic aspects about these traffic deaths is that they can be prevented without any new high tech equipment or expensive gear. Oil and gas companies need to have zero tolerance for traffic accidents and put the policies in place that will accomplish the goal. Absent that, it is pretty obvious why a community would want to ban fracking and should have the right to do so.