California Data: Truck Crashes, Deaths Common Along Proposed Trucking Route

Trucks on the highway in a sunset

The Center for Biological Diversity analyzed California Highway Patrol data, determining that a large truck collision occurs every week and almost two truck-related fatalities occur per year along a trucking route proposed by ExxonMobil.

Santa Barbara County will vote on ExxonMobil’s proposal to restart offshore drilling platforms and truck oil along Highway 1, Highway 101 and Route 166, a notoriously dangerous road, after the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission holds hearings on the project in September.

“This disturbing data shows that ExxonMobil will endanger California’s motorists and communities to get its offshore oil flowing again. Santa Barbara County officials can’t let that happen,” said Center for Biological Diversity organizer Stephanie Prufer. “Route 166 is just too treacherous for these tanker trucks. A crash along coastal Highway 1 could cause yet another oil spill in the Pacific Ocean.”

The data demonstrates there were nine deaths, 92 injuries and 216 large-truck collisions requiring a police response from January 2015 to March 2020 the proposed route. The data includes box trucks, tractor-trailers and tanker trucks. The collisions and deaths seem to be concentrated along Route 166.

The proposal would allow up to 470,400 gallons of oil per day to be transported along the 140 mile route, 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

A Public Policy Polling survey of 890 registered Santa Barbara County voters in October 2019 found that 51% oppose ExxonMobil’s plan, compared to 32% who support it. 72% of responders responded “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” to the question, “how concerned are you about the safety of our local highways if up to 70 oil tanker-trucks are allowed on our roads each day?”

“Santa Barbara County voters don’t want ExxonMobil to restart its dirty and dangerous offshore platforms,” said Center for Biological Diversity organizer Stephanie Prufer. “They don’t feel safe with oil tanker trucks on their coastal highways or the threat offshore drilling poses to Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches. People are ready to phase out offshore drilling and embrace clean energy and climate action.”

Hundreds of oil truck incidents happen each year in California and many of them result in spilled oil. A tanker truck crashed, tumbling off of Route 166 in March, spilling over 4,500 gallons of oil into the Cuyama River.

An Associated Press study of six states where increased gas and oil drilling caused truck traffic to rise found that traffic accident fatalities have more than quadrupled in some counties since 2004.


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