The abundance of oil and natural gas production and economic development associated with the SCOOP and STACK plays comes with an unavoidable effect – increased traffic.
In an effort to minimize the impact of increased traffic and keep other drivers on the roads safe, the oil and natural gas industry has partnered with the Energize for Safety Coalition and surrounding communities. This non-profit initiative is a proactive measure aimed at positively impacting driver safety in the communities where they work and live. It has since unified a large collection of safety advocates from the oil and natural gas industry, community leaders, nonprofit and governmental partners.
The collation highlighted some of the solutions the industry has already put in action during an event in Kingfisher, including plans for a new safety zone, which will be located on Highway 33 between Kingfisher and Watonga.
“I’m just so encouraged by everyone who has engaged, shown up, and been committed,” said Tom Robins, Founder & President of Energize for Safety Coalition. “Oklahoma has that mentality of wanting to be problem-solvers.”
During the luncheon event, various speakers emphasized the value of the oil and natural gas industry recognizing this need and proactively addressing issues.
“When you think how the energy sector came to us and said, ‘Help us. Let’s make improvements here that can be very impactful in bringing safety to this region of the state.’ That’s huge that the energy sector – the private sector – wants to be engaged and bring this kind of safety to this area,” said Mike Patterson, Former Secretary of Transportation.
As part of the safety zone development, Robins confirmed there will be construction involved including the installation of shoulders, centerline mobile strips, decelerations, turning lanes and signage.
The coalition was welcome news to Kingfisher Chief of Police Dennis Baker.
“I thought, okay, I’m not by myself on this. Now I’ve got help and resources,” said Baker. “I’m excited because it brings everybody under one roof to look at issues of safety, public awareness, and educating our community. It’s made a huge impact for us here.”
Working with the coalition and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, EnLink Midstream has purchased additional road signage which will be installed by their new gas processing plant near Watonga.
“The coalition has been amazing. They connected us with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation,” said Tiffany Moss, Senior Public Affairs Representative for EnLink. “After some conversations between ODOT and our team, they selected additional traffic signs we’ll be placing near the entrance of our facility to make people more aware of trucks entering and leaving.”
Communication between private and public sectors can be difficult to coordinate, however Moss noted the efficiencies made possible by this endeavor.
“There’s no way that we can tackle this on our own and it be effective. The coalition is that vital link between all of these members and the communities that really want to help improve traffic safety.”
The industry is quick to recognize their role in local traffic issues.
“We know we drive and influence the congestion in the area. We know we have a responsibility,” said Michael Pontiff, Director of Safety, Environmental, Regulatory and Compliance with Encana.
Max Thomas, Superintendent of Chisholm Trail Technology Center, emphasized the importance of teaching teenagers and young adults about the dangers associated with driving around trucks, including large blind spots and slower deceleration time. As a member of the Energize for Safety Coalition, he’s partnered with the Oklahoma Safety Council to make the Alive at 25 driver safety program available to all commuter students of the technology center.
The coalition is making a concerted effort to provide resources to all local high schools to enhance driver education classes.
“We know our role and we want to step up to the plate and help make a difference in these communities,” said Pontiff.
Oil and natural gas companies are also making sure their drivers are making safety a top priority.
“We have equipment within our vehicles that help us monitor speed conditions and limit the speed a vehicle can reach. It also informs us of driving habits we need to educate our employees on,” said Matt Nuckolls, EHS Director for EnLink Midstream.
Nuckolls’ hopes for the coalition mirrors that of most members.
“We really hope the community sees we’re trying to do more with the resources that we’ve been given, and how committed we are to making everyday life safer for all of us.”
Stay updated on how the industry is advocating for safety in communities where they operate by continuing to visit EnergyHQ.com.