Insurance company launches safety campaign

With an increase in the population in the Permian Basin due to the oil boom, Texas Mutual Insurance Company, along with the Permian Basin STEPS Network and the Texas Oil and Gas Association, kicked off their “Give Safety a Hand” campaign Tuesday.

Meeting at the Barn Door South Forty at 8 a.m., a group of about 15 people from the different organizations and a few oil related business leaders met to discuss the new campaign which focuses solely on traffic safety.

“It’s for the whole Permian Basin, but focused on Midland and Odessa with what we’ve seen over the last couple of years,” Communications Manager for Texas Mutual Jeremiah Bentley said. “We’ve seen an increase in injuries and fatalities in oilfield-related business.”

In 2010, the Odessa Police Department responded to 1,875 accidents and in 2011 police responded to 2,245 accidents — an increase of 370 during the past year, a City of Odessa accident statistics report states. The report also states there were 10 road fatalities in 2011. In comparison, police reported six homicides in 2011.

For 2012, Odessa police reported responding to 832 accidents, with seven fatal accidents resulting in eight deaths.

The most recent accident to happen in the city limits was Friday and involved two vehicles in the 5000 block of East 52nd Street. Nikolas Agustin Moralez, 14, and Wanda Molen Bryant, 87, were both died in connection to the collision while sending Alma Paz Zubiate and Sandra Bryant Bell to the hospital.

Most accidents don’t occur onsite, but rather when workers are traveling to and from work, Steve Bills, Senior Manager of Loss Prevention Services for Texas Mutual said. Speaking to the group, Bills said while the number of onsite accidents has remained stable between 2009 and 2010, the number of offsite vehicle accidents have increased and are expected to increase again between 2010 and 2011.

“It’s a big problem,” Bills said but said the numbers between 2010 and 2011 were not available to him at the meeting.

The most common factors for the accidents have been linked to fatigue, speeding, and distracted driving, Bills said, while saying 34 percent of total work related accidents are related to vehicle accidents. For oilfield workers, the number increases to 40 percent with the majority of them being serious or fatal; something Bills said can be avoided if oilfield drivers buckle their seatbelts.

“If it’s anything a 5-year-old knows today, is that you need to buckle up your seatbelt,” Bills said.

And while the campaign may be geared more towards oilfield related businesses, Bentley said the organization was also trying to remind all drivers the importance of driver safety. The campaign will also place billboards around the city and drivers are asked to visit the website set up for the campaign.

Jeff Rea, President of West Texas Insurance Exchange, Inc. was at the meeting in place of the City of Odessa to announce they city’s proclamation of Tuesday as “Give Safety a Hand Day.”

“The city and its leaders are out there … and they want Odessa to be a safe place to live and visit,” Rea said.

@OAgovernment

Accidents

City of Odessa

2010: 1,875.

2011: 2,245.

2012 (to June): 832.

TxDOT (state roads in Ector County)

2010: 2,035.

2011: 2,239.

2012 (to June): 850.

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