A serious New Mexico Permian Basin accident claimed the life of four oilfield workers and the driver of a tractor-trailer in New Mexico. The accident happened Thursday morning after the driver of a pickup truck carrying oilfield workers crossed the line into oncoming traffic, colliding with the large truck. Scenes from the accident show the charred remains of both vehicles. There were no survivors.
The crash occurred along State Route 128, about 195 miles east of El Paso, Texas. The four workers and truck driver were from Texas. Authorities did not release the company that the oilfield workers were employed by and did not reveal who the truck driver was working for.
Death Highways: The Permian Basin’s Toll on Highway Safety
It’s currently unclear what caused the accident. However, the incident occurred in a region which has become one of the most prolific centers of oil and natural gas in the United States. This crash occurred during calls for increased road maintenance in the Permian Basin. The area’s oil boom has created a dramatic influx of traffic on small rural roads which were initially created for light rural use. Crashes on New Mexico State Routes 31 and 128 have increased in the last year. State authorities have designated sections of these roads as safety corridors to make them safer for all drivers.
Arnold & Itkin has discussed the dangers of Permian Basin roads in the past. We reported that Loving County, an area in the Texas section of the Permian Basin, is home to 134 people who share their small part of US Route 285 with over 10,000 vehicles each day. The road’s boom-induced business has caused residents to call it by an alternate name: Death Highway. In 2017, Route 285 was the location of accidents which killed 93 people—a 43 percent increase over pre-oil boom numbers.
Experts cite road conditions as a significant source of these deadly accidents. Additionally, sources believe that inexperience is causing an increase in collisions. As producers source more oil from the Permian Basin, companies are struggling to find enough experienced drivers to meet demand. One trucking instructor from the area stressed that companies are attempting to replace experience with training.
Arnold & Itkin will continue to follow updates for this accident and hope that road safety improves in the Permian Basin.