Impact of Energy Sector Growth on Perceived Transportation Safety in the 17-County Oil Region of Western North Dakota: A Three-Year Case Study

The sharp increase in travel volumes, shift in traffic mix, and large increases in crashes have transformed the traffic environment in the oil region of western North Dakota. Roads once used for local access and agricultural purposes now regularly serve the energy sector. Oil companies, workers, commercial trucks, and industrial equipment associated with oil extraction use these roads to access drilling and production sites. This has led to a larger number of overweight and oversized vehicles sharing the roadway with other traffic. A survey questionnaire was sent to drivers to better understand perceptions and behaviors of road users in this region. County-level crash data were gathered to analyze changes in driving conditions during the latest oil boom – specifically between 2004 and 2014. This study addresses two goals for improving regional traffic safety: first, to examine public perceptions of traffic safety issues and priorities; and, second, to address crash trends and intervention strategies. Survey results indicate residents believe driving conditions in the region are dangerous, but ratings have improved as oil activity has decreased. Crash data reveal that crashes parallel oil production: as the number of active oil wells grew exponentially, so too did crashes – even when factoring for changes in vehicle miles traveled and population growth. Economic factors, such as the price of a barrel of oil, may be linked to the prevalence of crashes, especially those involving large trucks.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 52p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01580975
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MPC 15-289
  • Created Date: Nov 20 2015 5:12PM