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Escaping Fatal Injury — Driver Uninjured After Truck Gets Stuck on Kennesaw Railroad Crossing

Last week, an Atlanta Foods International truck was hit by a freight train in a crash that easily could have turned tragic, but didn’t. As a Georgia catastrophic injury lawyer, providing legal representation to victims of Atlanta tractor-trailer accidents, I was relieved to learn that no injuries or fatalities occurred in the incident on the Cherokee Street train crossing in Kennesaw.

What happened? What we know is that the truck became stuck on the CSX Transportation train tracks close to Main Street. The tractor-trailer apparently was unable to cross the railroad grade when the trailer somehow got tangled in the tracks. Amazingly, the driver was able to exit the tractor to safety before the trailer was slammed by a freight train.

The truck driver was cited by the police for “failing to heed a crossing signal that warned of an approaching train.” After the accident, it took several hours for the roads to be opened and the truck to be removed. Some repairs are needed on the crossing. This incident should remind us of the dangers of trying to outrun an approaching train.

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-140) provides for a reasonable and prudent standard for crossing railroad grade. Specifically, when a person driving a vehicle approaches a railroad grade crossing, the driver is required to stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet away from the nearest rail. The driver must not continue until he or she can do so safely when a signal device is warning of a train’s approach, a crossing gate or flagman is signaling an approach, or a an approaching train is plainly visible and is in “hazardous proximity” to the crossing.

Other provisions of this section state that drivers must not go around a barrier or crossing gate when closed. Further, in situations in which there is no electric or mechanical signal device warning of immediate approach or there are no barriers or gates, all drivers must slow “to a reasonable and prudent speed and verify that there is no approaching train prior to proceeding.” (See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-140 (b) and (c)).

Georgia law also provides that: drivers are not permitted to drive a vehicle over a railroad grade crossing when a train is approaching, if there is insufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping, or there is insufficient undercarriage clearance for the vehicle to negotiate the crossing. (See O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-140 (d) — (f)).

These rules seem obvious, but in many instances in which accidents around train tracks occur, these basic rules are not followed. Some vehicles do not leave sufficient room in front of them to avoid stopping on the tracks when other vehicles are ahead of them. In this case, the driver apparently had a mechanical problem, but also did not heed the warnings of an approaching train. In some instances, drivers simply do not anticipate that a train could approach at any time and allow their vehicles to be boxed in which can lead to major injury or a fatal accident.

If you or a family member have been seriously injured or worse in a Georgia semi truck accident, please contact the Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, P.C. — we have decades of experience helping tractor-trailer accident victims get back on their feet and on with their lives. To find out how we can help you, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation at one of our convenient offices in Decatur, Duluth, Buckhead or the Perimeter.