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Can train-truck coordination avert truck accidents?

Truck accidents, whether they occur in North Carolina or anywhere else in the nation, can be quite disastrous. A truck accident can injure or kill more people simply because of the truck's sheer size. In North Carolina, tractor-trailer and railroad accidents have, unfortunately, become far too common. Although the U.S. has rolled out a high-tech system to stop train-tractor crashes, it may still take five more years for that system to be implemented.

Some railroad experts believe that a train and truck accident cannot be averted with this high-tech system. They believe in a common sense solution, and that both truck and train companies should talk to each other when trucks approach railroad crossings. In a recent accident in North Carolina, an Amtrak train struck a tractor-trailer at a crossing, injuring 55 passengers. There was no advance warning that the truck had stopped on the track.

Unfortunately, there is no federal law that penalizes train and truck operators for their lack of coordination. Truck and train accidents are far too common and occur almost 10 times in a week. Oversized tractor-trailer crashes are also too common. In 2013 and 2014, there were 20 such truck accidents.

A Federal Railroad Administration official said that the individual truck driver should let railroad authorities know if there is an unexpected load that will cross rail lines. Since there are no regulations that cover when highways meet rails, there are some best practice guidelines that need to be followed. Truck drivers, particularly if they are carrying a huge payload, should get in touch with rail authorities in order to help avert tractor-trailer crashes. In this particular truck accident, the vehicle driver spent at least 15 minutes trying to maneuver the vehicle over the crossing and jumped clear only minutes before the train crashed into the truck.

Source: The News Tribune, "Common-sense, low-cost fix for truck-train crashes rejected," Martha Waggoner, March 24, 2015

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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