On March 2, yet another Amtrak train collided with a vehicle at a railroad crossing, injuring 55 people in North Carolina. The truck driver, a convicted felon with a long history of traffic citations, failed to maneuver the oversized rig through the railroad crossing, ultimately derailing the train.
The truck driver, John Devin Black, has been cited for at least a dozen traffic violations, including speeding and several instances of driving with a suspended license. No charges have been filed against him for the March 2 accident yet, but officials are still investigating.
Questions were raised over why emergency railroad dispatchers apparently were not notified that Black was struggling to complete a tight turn across the railroad tracks with his nearly 16 foot wide and tall load, weighing 127 tons and extending for 164 feet. This is the designated route for truckers with exceptionally large loads, as several overpasses along I-95 would have been too low for him to clear.
Truck driver has lengthy history with the law
In December 2012, Black was arrested in Illinois and charged with exceeding the legal speed limit on his load. He was released on a $177 secured bond, but failed to appear in court the following month.
Black served time in prison in 1997, following a felony child abuse conviction in North Carolina. His long list of convictions include multiple counts of writing bad checks, assaulting a woman and violating a domestic violence protective order.
Preliminary report released in Metro-North train accident
The preliminary report has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board, following the deadly Metro-North train accident in Westchester County, NY on February 3. Investigators noted that the engineer tried to slow the train down to avoid the collision with the SUV that killed six people, but was unable to do so in such a short period of time. The engineer slowed the train down from 58 mph to 49 mph after spotting the SUV at the railroad crossing in Valhalla, NY.
“The track speed in the area of the accident was 60 mph. Based on the NTSB’s preliminary review of the train’s event recorder data, the train was travelling at 58 mph prior to emergency braking and the horn was operated in accordance with operating rules on the approach to the crossing,” the report notes.
Shortly after the report was released, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said train crashes could be avoided with better railway crossing technology. He referred to the railroad systems as “19th century technology,” calling for an urgent need to upgrade.
“These grade crossings are not accidents waiting to happen, they are accidents happening again and again, claiming lives and causing catastrophic injuries and damage,” he said. “These deaths and injuries can be prevented through better education, enforcement and engineering.”
Blumenthal has introduced legislation to increase funding for the Federal Railroad Administration to improve railway-crossing safety. The measure is co-sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer of New York and “provide new resources to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), states and communities to make critical engineering and safety upgrades at rail crossings, like installing new lights and signals, particularly at accident-prone crossings,” according to the lawmakers’ offices.
Pursuing a railroad crossing accident lawsuit in New Jersey
It seems reasonable that vehicles and trains should be able to share railroad crossings without colliding, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. If you were injured in a railroad crossing accident, you may be entitled to compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
It’s important to have an expert on your side who can investigate into the cause of the accident to determine what went wrong and see if you are entitled to bring a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit. Eisbrouch Marsh attorneys offer free case reviews to all victims of railroad crossing accidents in the greater NJ and New York City area.
- Yahoo, Truck Driver in Amtrak Crash in NC Has History of Violations http://news.yahoo.com/investigators-seek-cause-amtrak-crash-injured-55-085032668.html
- The Hill, Dem Senator: Railway Crossings Relying on ‘19th Century Technology’ http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/233648-senate-dem-train-crashes-could-be-prevented
- The News Desk, Metro-North Train Tried to Slow Down Before N.Y. Crash http://blog.ctnews.com/newsdesk/2015/02/23/report-metro-north-train-tried-to-slow-down-before-n-y-crash/#30765101=0