According to the Texas Department of transportation, “only 2 percent of Texans live in the Permian Basin, (but) 11 percent of all traffic fatalities occurred there in 2017”. In a recent interview with the Midland Reporter Telegram, John Speed; a district engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation’s in Odessa, stated “there are multiple causes for the high level of collisions that take place on our roads, mostly stemming from oil and gas industry here in the Permian.”
Today most oil and gas companies are facing similar driving related issues because of what our safety team refers to as a “high performance, delivery driven industry”. Being part of an industry that relies heavily on transportation, we fully grasp how that pressure can translate into a sense of urgency and allow for less than ideal driving conditions. In order to do our part, our safety team implores a robust driving program that all RK employees adhere to in order to keep the roads safer for us and for our community. We’ve found that distraction and fatigue seem to be the greatest contributors to industry-related accidents, and we do our best to manage both.
In his July MRT interview, Speed stated that “driver fatigue is very prevalent in the Permian Basin, as truckers try to get in as many work hours as they can”. This is why we supervise fatigue at the store and supervisor level. For every 8-hour shift our DOT drivers fulfill, they are required to fulfill at least a 30-minute break. That includes pulling over, walking around the truck, and stretching to revitalize themselves and get their blood flowing again before they get behind the wheel.
Distractions are an additional heavy factor, with Speed staying “15 percent of truckers (acknowledged) they were on Facebook or something similar” while operating a company vehicle. At RK, we hold a strict “No cell phone use while operating vehicle” policy. If there is a need to text, the employee must pull off the road to a safe location to send or return text. In addition, all use of cell phones for calls while operating a motor vehicle, must always be hands free.
Our safety team has stated their “number one priority… is that everyone gets home in the same condition they started the day”. It’s because of this that they created the safe driving perimeters our employees adhere to. And because of this, our roads in the Permian are improving every day.