Eagle Ford truck driver: 'Have a little bit of patience'

Companies put drivers through extensive training to ease congestion pain


SAN ANTONIO – The oil boom along the Eagle Ford Shale has brought with it an economic boom, but also a boom in traffic along the county roads of the Eagle Ford. 

With the increase in traffic, there has been an increase in accidents, including fatalities, "like anywhere else you have congestion," said Jim Schell, a driver trainer for a subsidiary of Chesapeake Oil.

That congestion is something residents and industry drivers are going to have to learn to deal with, he said.

"Everybody just has to be able to work together, have a little bit of patience and we'll all be better off," Schell said.

Chesapeake representatives say the company is doing what it can to keep the number of incidents down. They put their drivers through an extensive three week training course before they let them solo on the roads.

Even before they are hired, they have to have driving experience.

"The key thing here is that safety is No. 1 and productivity is No. 2," Schell said.

After the training, Chesapeake drivers should be able to stay one step ahead of the rest of the traffic.

"A good professional driver is going to drive defensively because he understands that he can see what someone else is going to do before they even know they are go to do it," Schell said.

Schell has been driving trucks for 29 years across the country and across the world in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

He has seen a lot from the cab of an 18-wheeler, including the distractions the cause accidents.

These days, he said, it's modern technology causing a lapse in concentration -- cell phone conversations and texting, "which is insane, to be honest," Schell said.

Schell said drivers who try to cut in front of trucks that may be going slower, or who go around trucks, are, in reality, only going to save seconds and those seconds are not worth lives.

Since the traffic problem is only going to get worse as the boom grows, Schell said the professionals will have to be the ones that take the lead in traffic safety.

"As professional drivers, we have responsibility to those who are not professional," Schell said.

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