South Texas is becoming something of an economic hotbed with the recent oil boom, but there has been a corresponding rise in trucking accidents to go along with the economic rebirth of the area.
In late August, a particularly disastrous trucking crash led to a fire and the death of 26-year-old Jorge Luis Rios. Another tanker truck, driven by Travis Jack Peel, failed to yield the right of way and collided with Rios’s vehicle. Peel was seriously injured in the accident, but has since been released from the hospital. Rios was killed immediately in the impact.
Accidents like these have become increasingly commonplace during the South Texas oil boom. As more supplies need to be moved around and more trucks have come to the area to pick up goods. Over twelve counties in the area have seen a rise in heavy commercial vehicle traffic, in particular McCullen County. McCullen has seen the largest increase in the number of wrecks as a result of all the additional traffic out of the twelve neighboring counties.
The rise has been dramatic. There were a total of four crashes in 2008 in McCullen, but forty six in 2011. That’s more than ten times as many accidents, a very sharp increase over previous years, and nothing suggests the rate of incidents is going to diminish. Nearby LaSalle County reported a 418 percent increase in commercial traffic accidents since 2008 as well, again an absolutely startling rise in incidents.
There is no doubt the oil boom has been good for South Texas, offsetting hard economic times that have plagued other states and counties for years. Yet with the good news there is a downside. In South Texas’s case, it is having to deal with increased traffic, longer commutes, and the increasing potential for a dangerous or even fatal semi truck auto wreck.