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North Dakota's Downside to the Oil Boom: Traffic Deaths

Oil trucks near an Enbridge facility outside Alexander, N.D.
Oil trucks near an Enbridge facility outside Alexander, N.D.Photograph by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Nowhere has the U.S. oil boom wrought as much change as in western North Dakota, where an influx of people chasing a gusher of well-paying jobs has led to some of the nation’s highest apartment rents. But the energy rush has also created a sharp jump in fatalities as the roads around Williston, Watford City, Dickinson, and Minot fill with commercial trucks linked to the oil industry.

Peruse federal statistics on the rate of highway traffic fatalities involving commercial trucks, and North Dakota “jumps right off the page,” says Eric Brooks, regional director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s office in Bismarck.