It seems that the oil and gas industry, which is having a positive impact on the economies in Virginia and West Virginia, may also have a downside. As oil and gas delivery trucks and heavy machinery become more frequent on highways, there has been an increase in deadly traffic wrecks.
Media reports say that overall traffic deaths in West Virginia decreased by 8% in 2013. However, in counties where there is a high amount of drilling and fracking, fatalities increased by 42%. The AP reports that there were 47 fatalities last year in West Virginia’s most heavily drilled regions. This is an increase from 2012, when 33 people perished in those areas.
The results are according to an AP analysis, which reviewed census data and traffic death information from six states that drill for oil and gas. The analysis indicates that in areas with high levels of drilling, fatal accidents have increased fourfold since 2004. However, roadways overall in that time have become safer, and not all of the accidents are due to trucks from oil and gas drilling.
This is a problem that hits close to home in communities in West Virginia and Virginia. Only last year, an oil truck in Clarkesburg WV smashed into a car, which killed two brothers, just 7 and 8 years-old.
Transportation officials in both states are aware that there is a growing safety problem with gas and oil trucks, and want to improve road safety for all citizens.
According to West Virginia Department of Transportation Communications Director Brent Walker, the state government is working closely with the oil and gas trucking industry to ensure that the roads are as safe as possible.
The energy boom has been fueled mostly by new drilling technology, and has created jobs that are desperately needed across the US. But the traffic deaths have devastated families across the US, and show that with every increase in oil and gas production, there are down sides.