TxDOT promoting safe driving after an increase in crashes in gas work areas

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - The oil and gas industry has theeconomy booming in many East Texas counties, leaving some roadways a littlecrowded.

With that boom all the good thingsthat come along with economic impacts we've had more fatalities," said CarolRawson, TxDOT Traffic Operations Divisions

In the Haynesville/Bossier Shale whichincludes Shelby, San Augustine and Panola Counites, oil and gas production hascreated hundreds of jobs and economic opportunities.

But TxDOT officials say that in 2012 therewere more than 1,500 crashes in the area and 126 of those were fatal.

"When you have to potential tohave traffic that is larger vehicles such as a larger bus or 18-wheeler youhave a higher potential for greater injury," said Philip Steen, RegionalCommander DPS Houston

The "Be Safe, Drive Smart"campaign is encouraging motorist to get back to the basics of driving toincrease their safety."

The drivers, if you'll abide by thelaws and the regulations out there don't drive distracted, put your cell phonesdown and your seatbelts on," said Rawson.

Shelby County Judge Rick Campbell hasworked as a volunteer fire fighter for 25 years and has witnessed theconsequences of not focusing on the road.

"I see firsthand because I haveto go to work 10-50s and use the Jaws of Life to cut people out and normally, unfortunatelythey were texting," said Campbell.

Oil officials say the economic boomisn't slowing down and more growth is on the way and East Texans need to beprepared.

"At anytime you can have anincrease in oil and gas exploration and when that happens there will be moreequipment on the roadways," said Steen.

Officials say taking extra initiativeto stay safe will make the increase in industry and traffic a smoothertransition for drivers.

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