A semi truck collided with a train early in the morning of October 25th in the town of Fairbanks, Minnesota.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the cause of the crash. Semi truck driver Shane Mumm was traveling westward on Townline Road at the time. He reported to police that his brakes malfunctioned as he was approaching the moving train, apparently at a railway crossing. Mumm said he tried to avoid the impact by steering his malfunctioning truck into a ditch, but his momentum carried his vehicle into the last few cars of the train. The train suffered minor damage, and the front of Mumm’s truck was reportedly destroyed in the impact. Shockingly, however, nobody was hurt in the collision, not even Mr. Mumm.

This is a happier result than a similar accident which took place earlier this year, in which a semi truck continued forward to crash into the side of a passing train, partially derailing the larger vehicle. The driver, a train engineer, and several others were killed in the impact, and many more were injured as well.

Semi trucks are massive vehicles, and while a train surpasses them on several orders of magnitude, the fact that they travel on narrow tracks means a semi truck is quite capable of derailing one.

There are a number of questions that remain to be answered in the Sheriff’s investigations. Did the brakes actually fail? This question could be tricky to answer because of the damage to the front of the truck. If they did fail, what do the vehicle’s maintenance logs say? Were all maintenance requirements scrupulously followed according to schedule and properly logged as a result? Neglected maintenance is a leading cause of equipment failure in semi trucks, particularly as companies push drivers to spend more total time on the road and less time “down” for sleep or vehicle repair.