From 2003 through 2008, about 650 workers’ lives ended in oil fields in Texas and across the country. One-third of those deaths resulted from vehicle driving accidents. That is significantly higher than driver deaths in any other industry. Working in the oil and gas industry is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States.
Although working on a rig is hazardous, vehicle accidents, the most preventable work-related accidents, cause the most fatalities. The dangers of driving on the oil fields are exacerbated by the fact that oil well drivers are not restricted to the same hour limits that are in place for commercial drivers. Often drivers in this industry must drive heavy vehicles after working shifts of up to 17 hours or longer.
An oilfield crewman in another state was required drive four hours from the drill site to the employer’s head office after working a 17-hour shift. He managed to stay awake while driving for nearly the entire trip. Sadly, fatigue took over, and he crashed into a road sign when he was only about 10 minutes from his destination. He survived, but his passenger died.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that oil well drivers spend a significant amount of time waiting. The agency regards those hours as “off-duty.” However, in reality, driving is not their only job. Crew members can also have other driving duties, putting them at exceptional risks of fatigue. Victims of oil field vehicle accidents in Texas may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If their employers do not have insurance to cover injured workers, legal counsel can explain other methods of pursuing financial relief.