Railroad/Highway Accident Report

Adopted: August 9, 1984
AUGUST 25, 1983

NTSB Number: RHR-84/01
NTIS Number: PB84-917005


About 1:10 a.m., e.d.t., on August 25, 1983, northbound National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) train No. 88, the Silver Meteor, struck an S. L. Balogh Trucking Company, Inc., tractor-lowboy semitrailer combination truck that had become lodged on a grade crossing of the single main track of the Seaboard System Railroad in Rowland, North Carolina. The 2 locomotive units and 2 cars of the 18-car consist of the train were derailed. The truck was damaged substantially and its cargo destroyed. Two of the 363 passengers on the train were treated at the scene and 15 were taken to local hospitals; 1 passenger was admitted, and the others were treated and released. Six train attendants also were treated and released. Amtrak reports that since the accident an additional six passengers have claimed injury. The truckdriver was not injured. There was no fire. Property damage was estimated to be about $623,399.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the deliberate deviation of the truckdriver from the route prescribed on a permit for the movement of the oversized vehicle and an ensuing detour onto a railroad/highway grade crossing that would not accommodate the low ground clearance of the vehicle.


As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

to the Federal Highway Administration:

Issue an On Guard Bulletin alerting motor carriers of the hazards of mild/highway grade crossings with high surface hump profiles. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-66)

Provide each Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety division office with access to the automated management information system (MIS) to facilitate identification of all motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce in their respective jurisdictions. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-67)

Develop additional information sources through which motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce can be identified and placed expeditiously into the automated management information system (MIS). (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-68)

to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:

Review the State safety program dealing with hazardous grade crossing profile conditions now underway in Florida, and promote the adoption within each State of this program or a comparable program developed by an appropriate AASHTO committee. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-69)

to the Association of American Railroads:

Establish the specifications stated in Section 1.2, “Profile and Alignment of Crossings and Approaches,” of the “Manual for Railway Engineering” of the American Railway Engineering Association as the minimum acceptable specifications for railroad-highway grade crossings. (Class II, Priority Action) (R-84-35)

Encourage all member railroads to coordinate activity related to track maintenance with local and State governments to preserve the integrity of the profiles at railroad/highway grade crossings. (Class II, Priority Action) (R-84-36)