Trucks and trains are two of the largest modes sizewise of ground transportation used traveling or transporting goods for businesses. However, because these vehicles are so large in height and weight and extremely fast in speed, when they are in an accident, the crash is likely to result in serious personal injuries or fatalities. One of the worst situations though, is when trains and semi-trucks collide. Not only can their size and speed cause serious damage, but a large number of people are usually involved or affected by the accident as well.
According to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a train and a semi tractor-trailer collided resulting in at least 55 people injured. A tractor-trailer got stuck on tracks while trying to make a left-hand turn, and an Amtrak train slammed into it. The state highway patrol reported that the oversized flatbed trailer was transporting a modular building wrapped in blue plastic and filled with electrical equipment. At the time of the incident, a trooper was trying to help the truck driver complete a difficult left-hand turn across the tracks and onto a two-lane highway. However, the truck, being 164 feet in length, couldn’t make the turn. This attempt lasted for about five minutes, and the trooper reported that during this time there was no indication of a train in the vicinity. Even though they were alerted by the lights and gates when the train began to approach, there was not enough time to reverse off the tracks before the train collided with the truck. In addition, it was difficult to get off the tracks because while the truck was attempting this maneuver because traffic had backed up behind it.
One witness shot a video of the accident with her cellphone. She saw the truck driver jump out of the truck as the train approached, right before the collision. State officials have said that 55 people were injured as a result of the crash, but federal authorities believe the number may be as high as 62. Those injured include the conductor of the Amtrak train. A spokesperson from the Federal Railroad Administration stated that it appeared that the locomotive and two cars derailed, out of a total of one locomotive and seven cars.
Additionally, a former Federal Railroad Administration official and current instructor at Michigan State explained that the curve of the railroad heading toward the intersection would have made it difficult for the train engineer to see ahead and for the truck driver to see down the track. The tracks also don’t cross the road where the driver was trying to make a left turn at a 90-degree angle. As a result, the instructor and former official says this is a bad geometry crossing.
The article also reports that this is the third serious train crash in two months’ time. Two other accidents occurred in other parts of the country in February, where several people were killed and dozens injured. Being only a few months into the year, train accidents have shown to be too frequent and too dangerous. Our attorneys understand the severity of truck and train accidents and have had experience with such legal cases. Whether the train be a commuter train like Metra or Amtrak, a public transportation train like the CTA “el”, or freight train conducting business, people should be able to be safe when in or around trains.