Be Safe. Drive Smart.
By Floyd Miller
The recent boom in oil and gas production across Texas has created thousands of jobs and many new opportunities for energy-producing areas. Unfortunately, with an influx in traffic in these areas, there also has been an increase in crashes.FatalitiesIn the Eagle Ford Shale energy sector, a 26-county region that stretches from Laredo to Madisonville, TxDOT crash reports indicate there were 3,450 traffic crashes that resulted in serious injuries or fatalities in 2013, an increase of 7 percent over the previous year. The result was 238 traffic fatalities in the region in 2013.The Permian Basin region experienced a 15 percent increase in roadway fatalities between 2012 and 2013, according to TxDOT crash reports. There were 4,411 fatal and serious injury crashes and 365 traffic fatalities in 2013 in the Permian Basin, a 59-county region that covers 75,000 square miles.Be Safe. Drive Smart.TxDOT has launched Be Safe. Drive Smart., a public education campaign to remind motorists to use extra caution when driving through energy work zones.TxDOT is partnering with oil and gas companies, the Texas Department of Public Safety and communities across the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale energy sectors to promote roadway safety. The campaign includes safety messages on TV, radio, billboards, and gas pumps.Safety PrecautionsDrivers are urged to take the following basic safety precautions: buckle up; drive a safe speed; pass carefully; always stop at red lights and stop signs; and avoid using cell phones while drivingInclement WeatherWinter TravelAs the possibility of winter weather makes driving conditions unpredictable and dangerous, the Texas Department of Transportation reminds drivers to stay off the roads as much as possible and use extreme caution when travel is necessary.If you must drive, please keep in mind that sleet or freezing rain can make driving and walking extremely hazardous. Roadway conditions motorists could encounter during adverse winter weather include:• Loss of pavement friction due to wet, snow-covered or icy conditions• Restricted visibility due to fog, falling rain or vehicle spray• Lane obstruction due to standing water or plowed or blowing snow• Infrastructure damage Winter Driving Safety Tips• Reduce speed. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions• Maintain at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice• Watch carefully for snow removal equipment and stay at least 200 feet back if you are behind a snow plow• Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas as they tend to freeze first• If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you feel you have regained traction then straighten your vehicleFor additional road safety preparedness information and tips, download the TxDOT Safety Guide for Winter Travel.Highway Road Conditions HotlineCall 452-9292 for current information. For non-emergency roadside assistance, motorists can call the Texas Department of Public Safety at 525-5555.Social MediaFollow the TxDOT Twitter feeds or TxDOT’s Facebook page for more road information.For more information, contact TxDOT Media Relations at MediaRelations@txdot.gov or 463-8700.