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NTSB Says Train Derailment Caused By Commercial Truck


New information from the National Transportation Safety Board has revealed a potential cause of the devastating Amtrak derailment in Dodge City, KS. The train, en route from Chicago to Los Angeles, was carrying 131 passengers and 14 crewmembers when it derailed shortly after midnight on March 15. Over 30 people were hospitalized for injuries.

News 9 reported, “Federal investigators say a feed truck from a nearby lot where cattle are fattened hit the track and shifted it before an Amtrak train derailed in southwest Kansas. National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener did not say on Tuesday if this was the cause of the Amtrak Southwest Chief’s accident Monday. But he says the impact of the truck from the Cimarron Crossing Feeders shifted the train track 12 to 14 inches.”

Video from the lead engine showed a distortion in the tracks. Quick action by an engineer likely saved lives; the emergency brake activation stopped the 60mph train in just 18 seconds. While a final report is pending, pundits are speculating that an unattended commercial truck rolled down an embankment and hit the exposed rails. The resulting track distortion created a standing vibration in the train that caused the derailment.

What does it take to bend steel?

Thankfully, no lives were lost. However, this incident serves as an example of the sheer mass and destructive force of commercial trucks. Consider this; a 5 foot section of railroad track can weigh more than 200lbs. Passenger tracks are typically five inches wide at the base and six inches tall. All it took to bend this amount steel was a medium-sized commercial truck moving at low speed. Imagine the amount of force that truck represents at highway speeds.

While we often don’t consider the destructive force that commercial trucks represent, it can be considerable. Smaller trucks can bend heavy rolled steel railroad tracks. Big rigs at full speed can demolish almost any obstacle. Interesting physics fact – a fully loaded 18-wheeler traveling at 2mph has the same amount of momentum as an SUV traveling at 40mph. In a collision, passenger vehicles don’t stand a chance.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The experienced truck accident attorneys at Stipe Law Firm can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Visit our office in McAlester or contact us today for a free consultation. We serve all of Oklahoma.