According to the National Transportation Safety Board, an inattentive driver and faulty brakes were the probable cause of a 2011 crash in which a heavy commercial truck struck a passenger train in the Nevada desert.
On June 24, 2011, a truck-tractor pulling two empty trailers on northbound U.S.1-95 struck the side of an Amtrak train that was passing through a grade crossing en route from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif. The truck-tractor and several passenger rail cars were destroyed. The truck driver, train conductor, and four train passengers died. Fifteen train passengers and one crewmember were injured.
Investigators found no evidence that the truck driver began braking until the front of the truck was less than 300 feet from the crossing even though the grade crossing signals activated when the truck, traveling at least 58 mph, was still more than 2,300 feet from the tracks.
NTSB chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman commented, "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, this accident could have been avoided."
During its investigation the board discovered the truck driver had as many as 30 priors the 10 years prior to the accident, had been cited for more than 12 moving violations, had at least three accidents, and had his driver's license suspended or revoked at least four times.
Investigators also found that nine of the 16 brakes on the truck were either out-of-adjustment or inoperative. In addition, the anti-lock brake systems of both trailers were not functional; wires to missing sensors were cut and zip-tied; and wires to malfunction indicator lights had been disconnected.
As a result of the investigation, the NTSB made a total of 20 safety recommendations to John Davis Trucking as well as various agencies and associations.