Tractor Trailer Crash Blocks Railroad Tracks in Centerville

The driver of a tractor-trailer heading south on I-15 near Centerville lost control of his truck today, with the truck ending up on the railroad tracks. According to KSL News, the crash happened around 1 p.m. when the driver for PWTI (Pacific Western Transportation, Inc.) struck the center median on the left side, causing the truck to snap back to the right. Miraculously, the truck hit no other cars in the process and came to a rest on its side, with its wheels partially blocking tracks for the Frontrunner train. An approaching train then struck some of the debris on the tracks with (thankfully) no reported injury to any of the 104 people on board. The driver of the tractor-trailer, meanwhile, was taken to Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful with non-life-threatening injuries. UTA reported that trains were reported to be delayed by over an hour because of the crash.

Photo ( Utah Highway Patrol)

We can all be thankful that no one was seriously injured or died in this crash. Serious injury or death, however, is a possibility when crashes involve large commercial vehicles that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. If the truck had been positioned more directly on the train tracks, the result could have been catastrophic, as we have seen in other cases where trains have struck trucks and cars.

Meanwhile, the driver of the truck has some explaining to do as to why he or she lost control of their rig. This is a serious matter and is a black mark on that driver’s MVR (motor vehicle report) and PWTI, the company that employs the driver. Additionally, the employer is now on notice that the driver is a potential risk to their operation and may no longer be qualified to drive. While the story makes no mention of the driving history of the driver, I wonder if there is something in the driver’s file that was off. Did the driver have sleep apnea, which may have led to falling asleep at the wheel? Are random drug tests being administered? Is the company pushing the driver to go faster than they should? Finally, has the truck been properly maintained and inspected? All of these items and lots more are things that a prudent trucking company should be investigating to make sure this kind of crash doesn’t happen again.

Ron Kramer is a Utah attorney practicing trucking law in South Jordan and throughout Utah.