Most Dangerous Part of Oil Jobs: Driving Home
Exemptions allow drivers to head home after 20-hour shifts
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2012 2:43 PM CDT
Car lights are seen streaking past a California oil field in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – You know what's more dangerous than working on an oil rig? Driving home from one. More than 300 oil and gas workers have died in car crashes in the past decade, making it the top cause of death in a dangerous industry, the New York Times reports. The probable culprit? Oil fields have exemptions that let their truckers work longer hours than drivers in other industries, with shifts that are sometimes more than 20 hours long.

Workers say that exemption is often used to pressure them into working longer shifts. In court papers filed after one crash, workers said they were trained to falsify log books with fake sleep breaks, though their employer denies that. The NTSB says it's "strongly opposed" to the exemptions, but industry lobbyists have repeatedly fended off attempts to remove them. And as the industry grows so does the risk to drivers everywhere, says the lawyer for one safety advocacy group; "Its drivers don't have to follow the same rules."