Truck Struck By Amtrak Had An Oversized Load

March 11, 2015

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe
Image via ABC News video.
Image via ABC News video.

Improperly followed procedures involving a truck carrying an oversized load may have contributed to the train crash in North Carolina earlier this week, according to a news report from Associated Press.

The truck was three times the size and weight of a standard 18-wheeler and had been struggling to make a left-hand turn across the tracks when it was struck by an Amtrak passenger train. A witness at the scene said the driver had been attempting to make the turn for around eight minutes before it was hit.

Nobody alerted the railroad or Amtrak of the truck’s difficulties crossing the tracks. The truck was hauling an electrical distribution facility on a 164-foot long trailer. A special permit had to be granted to allow the truck to exceed length and weight limits and it was required to have a highway patrol escort.

When the railroad lights were set off by the oncoming train, a witness said that the driver tried a last-ditch effort to accelerate across the tracks before jumping out of his vehicle just before impact. At least 55 people were injured including the train conductor.

The Highway Patrol, the driver and the truck’s dispatcher failed to make contact with the railroad prior to the incident. An investigation is currently being conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration.


  1. 1. Frank Owens [ March 12, 2015 @ 09:25AM ]

    How do we know that the truck was three times the size and weight of a standard 18-wheeler. Did anybody weigh or measure the load. A load of this size would have to have permits to move the load. There was a state trooper escorting the truck and load before the truck even went out on the highway. This statement could lead someone to think that this was being done against the law.

  2. 2. Laughlin [ March 12, 2015 @ 10:20AM ]

    I agree with Frank Owens. This article is very confusing and makes it sound like the driver didn't have permits and escorts, which he did. I think that the actual "failure to follow protocol" is that the Highway Patrol officer or escort driver helping him get across the tracks should have notified the railroad immediately that they were stuck. The railroad has operators who take calls 24 hours a day for malfunctioning signals and problems at crossings. All LEO's have access to those numbers. Granted, 8 minutes isn't a lot of time, but the train could have had some advanced warning and slowed down.

  3. 3. Tom Kelley [ March 12, 2015 @ 10:41AM ]

    Relying on an AP report for facts in a truck related accident is a risky proposition at best.

    While the driver may have tried to free the truck for 8 minutes, every local report has him stuck on the tracks for more than 15 minutes. AP buries that fact and first spends multiple paragraphs weaving the big, bad truck narrative.

    The real story here is why did the state DOT approve a route with a high-center crossing for a long, lowbed load, and why did the state trooper not radio his dispatcher that the tracks were blocked in the 15 minutes prior to the crash?

    The only reason to even have a permitting process and police escorts is to avoid problems like this. Every driver in the country can't know about every substandard piece of road, that's the job of the state and local officials.

  4. 4. Rick Gaskill [ March 16, 2015 @ 05:36AM ]

    So far Laughlin seems to be the only one with a comment based on the information given. The load DID have proper permits and the size of the load was known. This was NOT a case of a low trailer getting hung on a crossing with a slope.
    It was the driver's responsibility to drive. The state trooper has to accept much of the blame. He failed to notify the railroad. I'll bet this crossing had a sign with a phone number to call if the crossing was blocked. Another thing the trooper and escorts should have done was to prevent vehicles following the load from entering the distance the driver would need to back off the tracks.


Comment On This Story

Comment: (Maximum 2000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry.


ELDs and Telematics

sponsored by
sponsor logo

Scott Sutarik from Geotab will answer your questions and challenges

View All

Sleeper Cab Power

Steve Carlson from Xantrex will answer your questions and challenges

View All