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January 22, 2013
Driver inattention is among causes of Amtrak accident

An inattentive driver and faulty brakes were probable causes of an accident in which a heavy commercial truck struck a California-bound Amtrak passenger train. The accident, which took place in the Nevada desert, killed 6 and injured 16.

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On June 24, 2011, a truck-tractor pulling two trailers struck the left side of an Amtrak train passing through a grade crossing. The collision, which destroyed the truck and several passenger railcars, also ignited a fire that engulfed two railcars and part of a third.  The accident killed the truck driver, the train conductor, and four passengers.

“Although we’ll never know the exact cause of the truck driver’s inattention, we do know that if John Davis Trucking had provided its driver with a safe and properly maintained vehicle, the accident could have been avoided,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

The investigation revealed that 9 of the 16 brakes on the truck were out of adjustment or inoperative. Investigators also found that the driver had an erratic employment history, had been cited for more than a dozen moving violations and at least three accidents, and had reportedly omitted key information from his employment application.

The report and a list of NTSB safety recommendations are available at
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