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Truck Accidents: A Hidden Danger of Ohio’s Fracking Boom

The gas fracking boom in Ohio has brought a fair amount of controversy, mostly due to environmental concerns. But fracking is also associated with a lesser-known danger: an increase in crashes involving large trucks.

Tractor trailers’ massive size makes every truck accident potentially catastrophic. Truck accident victims need experienced legal counsel to help them navigate the complex claims process and recover maximum compensation for their injuries. Graham & Graham’s Ohio truck accident lawyers represent victims throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, where fracking has led to a spike in truck crashes near drilling sites.

Surge in Serious Accidents Linked to Fracking Sites

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is a drilling method that produces fractures in underground rock formations to stimulate production from oil and gas wells. While the practice has been an economic boon for many counties that badly need new jobs, the corresponding uptick in large truck traffic is an unintended—and sometimes deadly—side effect.

Fracking is resource intensive. It requires trucks to move stone, heavy equipment, and water to drilling sites, and to transport extracted materials away. Each drill site can require approximately 1,300 to 1,600 trucks. But more truck traffic on roads has led to more traffic accidents in fracking regions.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, semi-truck crashes in Ohio’s eastern shale regions have increased by about 14 percent. ODOT’s Director told the Dispatch that, “Absolutely there’s more truck traffic in that area of the state than there has been in the past. Whenever you have more traffic, that’s more conflict and more opportunity for crashes.”

Similar trends are seen in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and other fracking states. An Associated Press analysis found that in West Virginia’s most heavily drilled counties, traffic fatalities have increased 42 percent. Traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania drilling counties have increased 4 percent while falling 19 percent in the rest of the state.

The risks of higher truck traffic could be exacerbated by companies under pressure to meet trucking demands. Houston Public Media, for example, describes the rise of fracking-related “rogue trucking operations” that do not properly train their drivers or maintain their fleets. Like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, Texas’ fracking growth coincides with a sharp rise in motor vehicle fatalities on roads servicing shale operations.

What to Do If You’re in a Truck Accident

Fracking truck accidents are likely to remain an issue for years to come in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, since these states have some of the country’s largest reserves of shale natural gas. Ohio’s oil and gas fields are largely concentrated in the eastern portion of the state, but the state’s large interstate highway system makes it a crossroads for truck commerce of all kinds. In fact, statewide, 1 in 8 deadly Ohio crashes involves a large truck.

If you’re in a truck accident, it’s vital that you seek prompt legal counsel. Truck accidents not only tend to result in serious injuries, but they’re also more legally complex than other motor vehicle crashes. Filing a truck accident claim entails complicated questions of liability, numerous state and federal regulations, and insurance company adjusters that do not have your best interests at heart.

Following a truck accident, it is critical to immediately begin an investigation and preserve evidence. Graham & Graham understands trucking law and how to obtain maximum compensation for accident victims. For legal help with a truck accident in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia, please contact us for a free initial consultation.

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