Fraccidents: The impact of fracking on road traffic deaths

Minhong Xu, Yilan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a., fracking, requires intense truck trips to transport a large volume of water within a narrow time window, posing a safety threat to other road users. This paper examines how fracking-related trucking affects fatal crashes in North Dakota using the exogenous timing of fracking operations near a road segment. The results show that an additional post-fracking well within six miles of a road segment led to 8% more fatal crashes and 7.1% higher per-capita costs in accidents. Transport activities at wells’ other operational stages did not affect fatal crashes. These additional fatal crashes emerged mainly from collisions involving trucks, resulted from a higher traffic volume rather than a higher crash rate and occurred during daytime rush hours rather than during the rest of the day. Alcohol-involved drivers increased among these fatal crashes most likely due to their vulnerability to heavier fracking-induced traffic rather than more alcohol-involved truck drivers near the fracking sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102303
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Fatal crashes
  • Fracking
  • Truck traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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