A collision between a tractor-trailer and an Amtrak train last year that killed six people has been found to have been likely caused by the truck driver, who was killed in the crash. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board discovered that his vehicle had bad brakes and that the driver had racked up a record of speeding infractions prior to the fatal truck accident which shocked people in Tennessee who saw reports of the incident. They also believe that the driver was distracted.
Officials speculated that he simply didn’t see the oncoming train as a result of one of several things. They were unable to definitively pin down whether the cause of his distraction was irregular sleep resulting in tiredness, checking his cellphone for text messages while behind the wheel, or pain he may have been having in his ankle.
The federal investigators believe that the accident toll was made worse by thin walls in the train’s passenger cars. In addition to five people on the train dying, over a dozen onboard were injured. The agency has voted to recommend that passenger car walls in trains be strengthened to try to save lives in the future.
The trucking company may well bear some measure of blame if they failed to properly maintain the truck’s brakes and monitor to the driver to ensure that he got enough rest and was discouraged from texting while driving. When an accident like this ends innocent people’s lives and injures many, those responsible through their negligence for the tragedy, including the driver and the company which employed him, should be made to pay compensation to the victims.
Source: The Republic, “NTSB: Distracted driver of truck with bad brakes probable cause of fatal Amtrak-semi crash,” Scott Sonner, Dec. 11, 2012