Truck Driving in the Eagle Ford Shale Play

Mission Well Services Frac Spread
Mission Well Services Frac Spread

Even those who are not in the trucking industry have an inkling of an idea about the driver shortage. Ads for jobs for holders of commercial driver’s licenses pepper the newspaper classifieds. Recruitment ads fill television and computer screens not to mention the Job Board on this site, suggesting to even the casual viewer that drivers are in demand.

The industry needs about 100,000 new drivers every year. Why that many? Experienced drivers reaching retirement age are parking their trucks. Safety initiatives, in particular the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, have pushed many less-than-competent drivers out of the industry. New hours of service regulations have cut productive driving time so it takes more drivers to deliver the same amount of freight.

If you’ve been eyeing truck driving as a career, you might be wondering if this is the time to make your move but what type of trucking? The boom in oilfield service means a variety of drivers are needed for that industry segment.

Trucking in the Oilfield

Jobs for drivers in the Eagle Ford Shale play include the transportation of hazardous and non-hazardous materials like sand, cement, crude oil or water. You may be moving rigs and equipment. So you’ll be operating all types of equipment such as flat beds, tankers, dry van, end dump, belly dump, pole trucks and oversize equipment.

Is the Work Hard?

[ic-r]Trucking has never been an easy job. There’s so much more to CMV operation than simply getting the vehicle from Point A to Point B. Drivers have to deliver cargo undamaged and on time while guarding the safety of those which whom they’re sharing the road as well as their own safety. It all has to be done within the limits set by complex regulations that seem to change daily, if not hourly.

Trucking in the oilfield presents additional challenges. Working in the oil and gas industry as a commercial driver is very demanding, requiring you to work long hours which many times include duties other than driving. Your cargo may consist of extremely expensive equipment or supplies. Time may be even more of an essence than in other trucking jobs if production has come to halt waiting for your payload. The temptation to exceed the legal limits placed on your working hours will be great although you’ll quickly realize it’s not worth risking your health and safety not to mention your license.

The roads that you travel take a beating and will test your vehicle-handling skills to the max. Most of the work is local, usually within a 60-mile radius of the fleet facility. Drivers usually work an 11-hour day, much of it spent waiting to be offloaded at a rig site. Some sites won’t allow trucks to move at night.

What About Pay?

Most oilfield CMV drivers are paid weekly. Jobs sometimes include important benefits like medical insurance as well as dental and vision coverage. You may be offered participation in a 401(k) retirement program with the company matching your contribution. Paid vacation days may be part of the package. Depending on location salaries are around $45,000 a year and can reach $70,000 a year.

What Do I Need to Know?

For starters you will need a CDL and you’ll likely need one or more Endorsements. We highly recommend getting the Hazardous Material, Tanker and Doubles & Triples Endorsements to increase your skills and job readiness.

Beyond the knowledge and skills you need to get the required license and endorsements, you’ll need to be creative and inventive as well as self-reliant. Your equipment might break down in a location where assistance might not arrive for some time. You need to know your equipment thoroughly, be able to troubleshoot problems and be prepared to make basic repairs. You’ll realize that it’s very important to conduct thorough vehicle inspections at the beginning of your shift as well as a post trip in order to prevent breakdowns that rob you of productivity.

There are easier jobs than trucking in the Eagle Ford Shale Play but not all are as rewarding. The field is wide open to drivers with the necessary skills and a professional attitude. Check it out. You may be just right for trucking in the oilfield and it might be just right for you.

Give Me Some Space! Trucks Need More Room

In July of 2013, the Houston Chronicle reported that 12 people had died in Eagle Ford Shale area traffic accidents, an increase of 12 times the number of fatalities reported to the Texas Department of Transportation. This past spring, the San Antonio Express reported that Texas Department of Transportation data showed a 40 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents in the Eagle Ford Shale region last year. There’s no question that the shale play roads are busy and congested. This makes it more important than ever for drivers to know how to share the road. While the biggest jump in fatal traffic accidents has involved commercial vehicles, recent data shows that the majority of fatalities from collisions involving large commercial trucks are not the result of the truck driver’s actions but of the other driver’s actions. Sharing the road with large commercial vehicles means all drivers must always be aware of their surroundings.

The National Safety Council has a definition for a Preventable Accident. The NSC states further the expectations of professional drivers, that “every accident in which a driver is involved shall be considered preventable unless there was no action, which the driver could have reasonably taken to avoid the accident and that, his actions in no way contributed to the occurrence of the accident. The driver must drive in such a way that he commits no errors himself and so controls his vehicle to make due allowance for the condition of the road, the weather or the traffic, and so that mistakes of other drivers do not involve him in any accident.”

Road-Sharing Tips

[ic-r]Share the road and be safe by giving yourself plenty of room to maneuver. You need plenty of time, too, so maintain a safe speed. Here are some common sources of trouble and how to avoid them whether you’re behind the wheel of a large or small vehicle, courtesy of Del Mar College Transportation Training and Shell:

Blind Spots - Avoid tailgating a large vehicle. Remember, if you can’t see the driver’s face in the side view mirror, the driver can’t see you.

Cut-offs - Don’t try to sneak into a small gap in traffic ahead of a truck. Trucks take as much as three times the distance to stop as the average car.

Rolling back - Leave plenty of room if you are stopped behind a large vehicle. When the driver releases the brakes after being stopped, the vehicle may roll back.

Buckle your belts - Always buckle your seat belt. If you get into an accident with a large vehicle such as a truck, seat belts are your best protection. Trucks require a greater stopping distance and can seriously hurt you if your car is struck from behind.

Aggressive drivers - Aggressive drivers can be dangerous drivers. Pulling in front of trucks too quickly when passing and making frequent lane changes, especially in the blind spots of trucks can create dangerous and potentially fatal situations.

Wide turns - If a large vehicle in front of you is making a right turn, do not move up into the space that opens up in the right lane. You are putting yourself into a very dangerous position.

Turbulence - Due to various factors such as air pressure and airflow, a large vehicle can create heavy air turbulence. This may affect your ability to control your vehicle when passing a large vehicle.

Avoid distractions - Keep your cell phone and other electronic devices out of reach and silence them while driving.

Keep your eyes moving - You should be checking your mirrors, gauges and surroundings every 3 to 5 seconds.

Look Ahead - Be sure to look 5 to 10 seconds ahead of you to anticipate potential hazards.

Staying safe while driving in the Eagle Ford Shale play calls for planning, patience and attention. Aim to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so you’re not tempted to speed or chance risky maneuvers. Look out for other drivers, and yourself.

Riding the Hours of Service “Merry Go Round”

Running Clock
Running Clock

In December of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final rule for hours of service (HOS) that is scheduled to go into effect on July 1st 2013 regardless of a pending lawsuit that was submitted by American Trucking Associations.

This is not the first time the FMCSA has changed HOS regulations and it’s not likely to be the last. How long drivers should work before taking a break is a bone of contention among several parties. Safety activists want shorter work periods and longer, more frequent rest breaks while those in the industry want to make the most of their time on the road. In an effort to arrive at the best solution, regulations have been changed only to be changed back.

The HOS “Merry Go Round” has been a thorn in trucking’s side for years and has cost the industry millions of dollars to update paperwork, policies and conduct training workshops so employees will be in compliance. As publishers of training materials, we at Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc., scramble to bring our publications current.

Opinions will vary about the latest HOS changes but in the end we all have to comply with the regulations in force.

Here’s a summary of the changes that go into effect July 1st, 2013:

Limitations on minimum "34-hour restarts"

  • Current rule states:
    • there are no limits on how many 34-hour restarts you can use in a 7 day work week.
    • The new rule states:
      • Must include two periods between 1 a.m. - 5 a.m. home terminal time.
      • May only be used once per week.

Rest breaks

  • Current rule states:
    • there are none except as limited by other rule provisions
    • The new rule states:
      • May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. [HM 397.5 mandatory "in attendance" time may be included in break if no other duties performed]

Here’s also a summary of the changes that went into effect February 27th, 2012:

On-duty time

  • Current rule states:
    • anytime a driver is in Commercial Motor Vehicle, except sleeper-berth.
    • The new rule states:
      • Does not include any time resting in a parked vehicle (also applies to passenger-carrying drivers). In a moving property-carrying CMV, does not include up to 2 hours in passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in sleeper-berth.


  • Current rule states:
    • "Egregious" hours of service violations not specifically defined.
    • The new rule states:
      • Driving (or allowing a driver to drive) more than 3 hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties. Also applies to passenger-carrying drivers.

Oilfield exemption

  • Current rule states:
    • "Waiting time" for certain drivers at oilfields (which is off-duty but does extend 14-hour duty period) must be recorded and available to FMCSA, but no method or details are specified for the record keeping.
    • The new rule states:
      • "Waiting time" for certain drivers at oilfields must be shown on logbook or electronic equivalent as off duty and identified by annotations in "remarks" or a separate line added to "grid."

Making It Work

Next month, in Part Two, we’ll take a look at how to manage the new hours of service regulations.

Quick Reference HOS Regulations


Property-Carrying CMV Drivers (Valid Until July 1, 2013)

Passenger-Carrying CMV Drivers

11-Hour Driving Limit

May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

10-Hour Driving Limit

May drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.

14-Hour Limit

May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty,   following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the   14-hour period.

15-Hour On-Duty Limit

May not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive   hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.

60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit

May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may   restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours   off duty.

60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit

May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

Sleeper Berth Provision

Drivers using the

sleeper berth provision

must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper   berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off   duty, or any combination of the two.

Sleeper Berth Provision

Drivers using a

sleeper berth

  must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, and may split the   sleeper-berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.

Driver Safety, The Law, and Cellular Based Devices In The Eagle Ford - Press Release

Wireless Communication in South Texas
Wireless Communication in South Texas

The ongoing national campaign against the use of cellular devices while operating a motor vehicle has sent out a plethora of mixed messages. Nearly 1 in 5 crashes in Texas occur while using cellular devices. On January 3, 2012 the US Department of Transportation (DOT) adopted a ban to restrict the use of mobile devices while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

The “Distracted Driver” campaign has established partial or total bans on texting while driving in over forty states, and heavy fines and civil penalties will be imposed on commercial drivers who use any hand-held device that has a phone number (FCC definition for mobile telephone) while driving. Violations will incur federal civil penalties of up to $27,750 for each offense and multiple offenses can ultimately lead to driver license disqualification.

What Do The New Rules Mean?

The new rule specifies that holding, dialing and reaching for a mobile device is unacceptable. Push-to-talk mobile telephones (if it has a phone number) are also restricted under the new rule. The restriction does not include the use of Professional Land Mobile Two-Way Radio units. Two-way radios are not considered to be mobile telephones and are not affected by the legislation.

"For many years A&B Communications has operated one of the largest wide-area communication networks in the US", says Patrick Russell General Manager.

A&B Communication's is expanding its South Texas network even further. The network was built for the oilfield service industry and has supported large, medium and small fleets through good times and bad. With the dramatic growth in Eagle Ford, we have been racing to expand coverage areas and network capacity to keep up with demand from new and previously existing fleet operators. Our network has always covered the remote unpopulated parts of Texas where cellular systems don’t go.

In addition to the “distracted driver” safety concerns,  our customers demand instant access to their fleets at the push of a button. They want reliable coverage, loud/clear audio that can be heard in noisy environments, convenient installations from service people who are willing to come to them on their schedules.

If US DoT rules are affecting your company, consider a reliable two-way radio system.

Headquartered in Corpus Christi, A&B Communications understands the unique needs of the oilfield fleet operator. The company specializes in safe, reliable, private communications systems and devices for petrochemical refining, oilfield, medical and public safety.

For media contact or more information:


The article above was published through’s press release distribution service. Learn more about Eagle Ford Advertising Here.

Defensive Driving 101 For Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers face many challenges every day. You’re under a lot of pressure to transport goods on time, without damage and without risking your own safety or the safety of those with whom you share the road. Getting around the Eagle Ford Shale region would be easy if commercial vehicles had their own highways to maneuver through but unfortunately you have to share the roadways with everyone else. You’re a trained and professional driver but the same can’t be said for other road users. This means that you have to drive defensively. Be alert and aware of your surrounding at all times.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep you and those around you safe:

Seeing The Road & Surroundings

To be a safe driver you need to know what’s going on all around your vehicle. Not looking properly is a major cause of accidents. Seeing ahead and watch for traffic. Be alert to accidents waiting to happen. Be aware of the effect that road conditions have on your vehicle’s performance.

Watch the sides and rear of your vehicle. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted to give you the best view. Pay attention to traffic, lane changes, turns, merges, tight maneuvers and understand what you see.

Be on the lookout for distracted drivers who are on the phone or moving around in their vehicle and not paying attention to the road. They could get themselves in trouble that could involve you. Identify developing problems quickly and be ready to respond to any potential hazards such as:

  • tight turns
  • vehicles stopped on the road or driving too slowly.

Communicating With Other Drivers

You certainly don’t want your actions to take other drivers by surprise and cause them to overreact. Communicating your presence efficiently keeps everyone safe. Signal your intentions promptly. Slow gradually. Avoid making sudden maneuvers.

Managing Space & Distance

To be a safe driver, you need space all around your vehicle. When things go wrong, space gives you time to think and to take action. To have space available when something goes wrong, you need to manage space. While this is true for all drivers, it is very important for large vehicles. They take up more space and they require much more space for stopping and turning so maintain a generous following distance. Be aware of the traffic to the sides and rear of your vehicle as well as in front.

Commercial vehicle drivers put in a lot of miles. Spending all that time on the road, it’s easy to fall into a routine and get complacent. Sometimes you have to make a point of being in the right frame of mind to drive. When you pretrip your vehicle and get ready to roll, pretrip yourself as well. Make sure you’re alert and paying attention. Don’t drive if you’re too fatigued or impaired to respond. Your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road depend on your knowledge and professionalism.