Lawmakers and environmentalists in Virginia and across the country frequently talk about the concerns behind hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, which is commonly referred to as fracking, removes oil and gas from rock by injecting water and chemicals into the ground with extremely high pressure. In addition to the dangers fracking poses to the environment and wildlife, fracking may cause harm to truck drivers.
An expert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently looked into the dangers that fracking poses for drivers. The excess wastewater that fracking creates must be transported to a disposal site. Many roads don’t have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the heavy traffic from these trucks.
Researchers found that the extra traffic resulted in an 8% increase in fatal accidents on roads within 6 miles of post-fracking wells. These accidents are estimated to cause a 7.1% increase in higher-capita costs for drilling towns. In total, it’s estimated that 17 more fatal truck accidents occur around fracking sites per year. In many small drilling towns, this increases the number of fatal accidents by 49%. Nonfatal crashes are also a concern. Experts have proposed that a tax be placed per well used by fracking companies as a way to compensate cities for emergency services and road improvements.
Fracking companies have the responsibility to ensure that their drivers have enough time to transport the wastewater from wells to disposal sites. When drivers are expected to transport wastewater in a short time frame, they might be pressured to drive fast. This could result in a fatal accident occurring. The family of an individual killed in a motor vehicle accident may be left with costly medical bills and lost wages due to the death of their loved one. They might choose to file a lawsuit against the fracking company that owns the trucks. If it can be proved that the driver or company behaved negligently, damages may be awarded.