By now everyone is aware of the terrible accident when a semi-truck collided with an Amtrak train east of Reno. According to witnesses, as reported by townhall.com, the driver approached the rail crossing seemingly oblivious to the flashing lights and the lowered cross-arms. The semi skidded though the cross-arms and directly into the train. Investigators found skid marks about 230 feet from the train, but big rigs like the one involved, a 50,000 pound rig, cannot be stopped quickly, and in this case, not even close. The was a fiery explosion, and six people dies as a result, including the truck driver and the conductor of the train and 20 other were injured. The lawsuits have already been filed.
The National Transportation Safety Board has now released the results of its investigation and have concluded that the probable cause was driver inattention and poor maintenance on the truck with inadequately maintained brakes. Amtrak recently filed a suit against the trucking company employing the driver and accuses the company of negligently hiring and the driver and failing to properly train him. The suit alleges that the driver was either incompetent or unqualified to be behind the wheel of the big rig and failed to adequately train him on the safe operation of the rig.
In statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2008, 4,229 people were killed in big rig related crashes; 123,918 large trucks were involved in non-fatal crashes; 49,084 crashes involved injuries. When a big rig and a passenger vehicle are involved, 70 percent of the fatalities are to the occupants of the passenger vehicle. While a big rig colliding with a train is a rare occurrence, truck accidents themselves, unfortunately, are not.
Certain federal laws and regulations apply to drivers of big rigs. A license can be issued only after passing a knowledge and skills test and driver carrying hazardous materials need to meet additional testing requirements. A driver must pass a physical exam every two years and no driver should be allowed to report for duty if he or she has a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher. In response to the issue of driver fatigue, which can lead to inattentive driving, new rules were added to limit a driver to no more than 11 hours in a maximum 14-hour workday; they are then required to be off duty for at least 10 hours.
But even with these rules, it is still the responsibility of the company employing the driver to adequately screen prospective drivers and to properly supervise them while employed. If you or a loved one has been injured or worse in an accident involving a big rig, seek the advice of an en experienced Nevada personal injury attorney.
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