TxDOT launches 'Be Safe, Drive Smart' campaign

40 percent increase in accidents along Eagle Ford Shale area

Author: April Molina, Investigative Reporter, amolina@ksat.com
Published On: Mar 15 2013 06:16:49 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 15 2013 06:42:10 PM CDT
KARNES CITY, Texas -

The once sleepy town of Karnes City has enjoyed an economic boom from oil and gas production, but it is also absorbing the increase in traffic and, as a result, an increase in the number of fatal accidents.

According to locals, it was bad and has gotten worse.

There are more large trucks on the road and more volume than is customary for the rural small Texas towns along the Eagle Ford shale.

"There were 2,723 fatal or injured crashes in the 23 counties which we consider the Eagle Ford Shale," said Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Carol Rawson.

She also explained those numbers represent a 40 percent increase from 2011 to 2012.

Former school bus driver Pauline Garza said she retired because of the increase in traffic and accidents.

"I was 36, I mean for 32 years and I had to quit because I was afraid of driving," Garza said.

Luke Legate, who represents the oil and energy industry, said some of the oil companies are looking at ways to keep worker fatigue from contributing to the number of accidents.

"A number of companies have programs in place where they designate a person to rest and be responsible for getting that crew home safely," Legate said.

The TxDOT campaign centers around common sense and the agency will be getting a hand from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

There are already extra troopers on the road watching for violators -- in hopes of encouraging safer driving.