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.