A lot of questions remain following a recent North Carolina crash. The accident at a Halifax railroad crossing involved an Amtrak train and a big rig with a 174-ton load. Fifty-five people were injured in the truck accident.
Reports said the 43-year-old truck driver, a resident of rural Claremont, had been cited a minimum of 12 times for traffic offenses, including driving with a revoked commercial driver’s license. At the time of the collision, the driver had a valid CDL and was working for a Greensboro trucking company, Guy M. Turner Inc., specializing in the transportation of heavy equipment.
During the last two years, drivers with the trucking company were involved in 13 serious accidents. Nevertheless, the company’s safety record was rated “satisfactory” by federal transportation officials.
The Amtrak train derailed when it struck the huge truck, which apparently had become stuck in a difficult turn while crossing the tracks. No charges were filed against the truck driver although authorities, still deep in the accident investigation, haven’t ruled out filing them in the future.
The truck was traveling through Halifax because the load was too tall to fit under Interstate 95 overpasses. Investigators are wondering why contact wasn’t made with emergency railroad dispatchers, who might have been able to stop the train and prevent the accident. Authorities are looking into the trucking company’s permit for hauling oversized loads and examining the contents of the train’s black box.
The truck driver also has a long felony record. A criminal history does not prevent drivers from keeping CDLs unless the crime is driving related.
Drivers aren’t the only ones who can’t be blamed for negligence in an injury truck crash – plaintiffs can be awarded compensation from several defendants. Trucking companies can be held liable in injury lawsuits for hiring incompetent drivers. In addition, employers are accountable for training drivers properly and monitoring their work.
Source: The Telegraph, ” Truck driver in Amtrak crash in NC has history of violations” Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss, Associated Press, Mar. 11, 2015