Preventable or not: Doe pained by four-wheeler’s lane switch

By CCJ Staff on
Pg106_PreventableOrNotDrawing

Trucker John Doe tried to avoid a four-wheeler that steered into his lane, but his rig jackknifed and slid off the road into a light pole. Was this a preventable accident?

Having delivered a shrinkwrapped pallet of Mrs. Frisky’s Rock-Throwing Kits to Toys Galore – off Pudd Pike, in the Smurdley Shopping Center – trucker John Doe was heading eastward on Route 409 with an empty dry van in tow. An icy rain was starting to fall, making the roadway slick, and it also was approaching lunchtime. “A hot pizza with extra veggies and low-calorie cheese sure would hit the spot,” mused Doe, who was watching his weight, after all.

After passing some turtle-paced traffic, Doe continued to run in the left lane at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, daydreaming about his imminent arrival at Paul’s Pizza Paradise. Simultaneously, Hortense P. Pocallia, rolling along slightly ahead in the right lane, noticed that cars ahead were stopping, but only in her lane.

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“There must be an accident,” Pocallia concluded as she hit her brakes and swerved her Corvette to the left into Doe’s path, hoping to escape the traffic jam.

Suddenly faced with the Corvette’s bright-red posterior, Doe also braked hard, figured that he couldn’t stop in time, steered into the right lane, started to jackknife and slid entirely off the road into a hefty light pole. Doe wasn’t hurt, but his long-nose conventional now resembled a cabover, inspiring his safety director to charge him with a preventable accident, which Doe contested.

Asked to render a final decision, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee upheld the preventable ruling. Despite worsening road conditions, Doe had passed more-cautious drivers instead of slowing down, even when traffic in the next lane was braking. Under those conditions, a professional driver should have anticipated lane-hopping by Pocallia and others, NSC said.

49 comments
Retired Hand
Retired Hand

I am a retired OTR driver who specialized in over-dimensional heavy haul for the DoD.  I did that for 17 years until a "preventable" accident took away my ability to earn a living.  I was hauling a 40 ton M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, when a car decided to lock up the brakes about 50 or so feet off my front bumper.  I stood on the brake pedal, my 2004 KW and brand new 5 axle lowboy both equipped with anti-lock brakes.  I added a little right turn to the mix in an effort to not hit the idiot in the car.  I ended up getting thrown around in the cab when the tractor slid off the pavement and on to the dew damp grass of the shoulder and down a fairly steep but not so tall embankment.  I was not charged in the ensuing mayhem, but I am no longer medically able to drive a CMV, due to the pain meds I now must take for the injuries I sustained in the accident.  When the trial all shook out, it was learned that the driver of the car had a deathwish and was attempting to commit suicide by Big Rig.  So...Let us ALL remember that most insurance surveys conducted since the 80's, have said this...in 90%, OR MORE, of all accidents involving a car and a Big Rig...The car is at fault.

mrtmrsh
mrtmrsh

What this amounts to is, they are going to make us responsible for everyone's driving. But I have to be honest here, I don't care about tickets, I don't care about being charged with a preventable accident, and it would not have bothered me to push that Vette to kingdom come, EVERYONE needs to be taught how to drive right and take responsibility. I do my best every day, they should have to also.

mrtmrsh
mrtmrsh

I agree it was preventable, BUT, instead of taking the truck off road he should have hit the person responsible for creating the mess. He also had no business changing lanes because he puts other people at risk. It has been proven many times, you create more havoc by trying to miss things, the size and weight of the truck dictates that you should always go straight.

live hauler
live hauler

Gordan A I under stand that you do but you don't know if Doe dose. The article says the road was slippery. I command you on the 45 years. I only had 15 years but I had 39 years behind a 4 wheeler and I had many of words with eighteen wheelers that fly by me putting me and my passangers in danger because they don't slow down.  Oh by the way did anybody else see who in the article is going 22 mph.

live hauler
live hauler

Accident PREVENTABLE why are we discussing this  Doing 55 in a 55MPH zone in icy conditions in left lane come on!

just asking for trouble day dreaming or not. I'm glad everyone is Ok

Gordon A
Gordon A

 @live hauler  I keep my distance and I do consider that many of the drivers in both cars and trucks are driving based on their  ability and skill level. I do not need to follow some one at 22 mph because they are unable to cope with bad weather, suffer from  lack of driving skills related to bad weather.or have poor eyesight.   I go left, I do so to eliminate more potential  possibilitys of an accident and I do so because I have good solid driving skills I have honed over 45 years behind the wheel of a CMV. Staying behind slow traffic when the left lane is open can assist in increasing the chance of an accident and it also  allows traffic free movement..I see every year in snow, sleet, freezing rain people trying to drive fast because they have an all wheel drive or a 4 wheel drive and think they are invincible.More often than not I see them stuck in a snow bank or down the ditch line wondering what happened.

Fact. Lets say the first vehilce in a line of cars does 40 mph, 20 or so vehicles behind and  the last one in line  is doing about 15 or 20. mph Take in weather, dirty windshield, poor wiper blade condition and lack of driving skills from 90% of the drivers of all vehicles  we share the road with and an accident is going to happen.

I look at the situation, take in consideration weather, time of day and go left when it is safer to do so . Unlike many so called drivers I do take in to consideration where the exit is I am planning on getting off at. I also consider that the next exit is a dangerous place to be as few drivers really know how to merge onto an interstate or merge any time for that matter.  Bad weather makes it worse.

Also the story clearly states that the icy rain had just began to fall, so roads were not covered yet.

Gordon A
Gordon A

 

Just to muddy the water a bit.

It seems that the word IF is begin used to describe a non existent situation. IF does not belong here.     It is not IF he had moved or IF the corvette did not change lanes. IF . drop the IF. The question was. Is this a preventable accident. NOT .... Not if he was daydreaming . Not if it was no ice and snow on roadway. Preventable  or non preventable.                 (    Meaning being charged with it ) this is a decision based on  the limits of experience a person has making that decision. it depends on the education somewhat. Few decisions makers have enough if any truck driving experience and base their decisions on what they read . Little or no hands on experience. 

Gordon A
Gordon A

Accidents don't just happen at the point of impact. Accidents have a beginning long before the impact. The beginning could be bad coffee setting the tone or another car cut him off earlier, Or the receiver had an attitude. Could be he had to clean up  something his dog left on the dinning room floor. All Accidents have a reason and a beginning and this accident review did state he was daydreaming about pizza.

Day dreaming has no place behind the wheel.  Daydreaming and planning are two different things.  Daydreaming prevents you from looking far enough ahead and  analyzing the situation around your vehicle. Daydreaming prevents you from being aware of your surroundings. It prevents you from doing the job your supposed to be doing and doing it properly.

 

It matters not if he was in the left lane or right lane or passing slower traffic.  We all have different skills levels when it comes to inclimate weather and road conditions and the kind of vehicle we are driving. .  Passing other drivers does not mean they are  more cautious drivers . Fearful maybe but seldom do we encounter safe cautious  drivers in their cars. Very seldom.  Especially in bad weather and sloppy road conditions.

 

That being said it's nearly impossible to plan on how any other vehicle we are sharing the road with   is going to react. We can assume they are going to cut across lanes of traffic but we don't know for sure. Conjecture at best. Being ready for the unexpected is a used up cliche'  Maybe a dash camera would have told  a different story. But alas not part of the story.

john3347
john3347

The fact that Doe crossed the right lane on his travel to the light post says that the right lane was clear.  Doe was not passing any vehicle while he was traveling in the left lane.  Doe should have been in the right lane traveling the same speed or slower than other traffic in that lane and maintaining a safe interval between himself and the cars (vehicles) in front of him.  Posted speed limit is universally too fast for icy road conditions.  Doe failed to "keep right except to pass", and failed to maintain proper speed and interval with road conditions as they were. Even though Doe did not CAUSE the accident, he failed to take measures available to him to have prevented the accident.  Had Doe been traveling in the proper lane and traveling at a safe speed for the road conditions, there would have been no collision with the lamp post, or other object.  Doe had a preventable accident but failed to prevent it.  Doe is at fault (in the wrong) for his contribution to the accident.

LainaVanbuskirk
LainaVanbuskirk

Hooty....Lets not take the ice off the road.  That would be one of the key factors of wether this was preventable or not...

Hooty
Hooty

I understand and you use the idea of "if" way too much.  So lets take this to the extreme "if",  if the driver had never got out of bed there never would have been an accident in the first place.  You folks have got to get over the "if" mind set.  Like I said before, there is not such thing as a non preventable accident, they ALL can be prevented by some fore thought.  The truck would have been fine had the chick in the vett just looked in the mirror she could have prevented the accident.  I really get tired of everyone blaming the truckers.  This is an anti truck mind set than needs to change.  Get rid of the "if" factor and deal with the blame.  ALL ACCIDENTS CAN BE PREVENTED.  So stop asking the stupid question " could this accident be prevented ",  this is a very stupid question.  I just cannot get any more plainer than that.

LainaVanbuskirk
LainaVanbuskirk

many of you have said that you are sure the driver did not say that he was daydreaming about pizza and that they "made that part up".  I was given the scenerio as it alledgedly happened.  And it was stated that teh driver said he was daydreaming about a pizza.  Wether or not he was daydreaming about a pizza or not, I teach DEFENSIVE driving.  Preventable does not necessarily mean you are at fault..it means that had you been defesive driving you could avoided an accident whether your fault or not your fault.  The semi driver could have prevented the accident from happening by slowing down and being on the defensive that some car driver (who are not trained on how fast a truck can stop) might slide into his lane or pull into his lane etc.  Stand by my original post.  Preventable .

Hooty
Hooty

Well, if you want to get personal about it, there is no such thing as a non preventable accident.  ALL ACCIDENTS ARE PREVENTABLE, which means someone is to blame on all accidents.  In the flying world it is called PILOT ERROR.

br213
br213

As a driver, I feel as well this was a preventable event.....If you are getting freezing rain/icy conditions...should you be trying to travel at the posted speed limit of 55mph, when the speed limits we professional drivers, have been told repeatedly are for optimal weather, for cars.

 

Wayne
Wayne

OK, This is a double preventable accident. The first and obvious is Pocallia's attack of the other lane. Instead of hitting her brakes and slow down like professional truck drivers are taught to do. The second and equally as obvious is the trucks speed and lack of reacting to the chain of events occurring in front of him. Now as "professional" drivers we should know what every ones thoughts and reactions are going to be before they do them. This is implied but nearly impossible to be true. End result is the truck is smashed and the driver got hit with a preventable accident. The proper thing in this scenario would have been for the truck to slow to the speed of traffic around him. With the impeding weather this should have been thought of before driving into that situation in the first place.

nick
nick

 I really doubt the driver explained to the investigator he was" daydreaming about pizza". I hate how they write these because they make the driver look like an idiot. If You instead read" the driver was going below the speed limit and was anticipating a lane change from an ignorant driver". Would you all feel the same way? He was going the speed limit and was driving properly until another driver swerved into his path at the last minute. If you are driving down the road and someone runs in front of your truck at the last minute are you responsible? Say you swerve to avoid them and wreck?? whos at fault now??

john3347
john3347

I have to agree with the preventable decision here.  Doe should have known that an empty van on an icy road was, in itself,  an accident looking for a place to happen.  Doe should have slowed to a safe speed well below the fair weather maximum of 55 MPH and returned to the right lane long before he attempted to go to the right lane when Pocallia moved to "his" lane on her brakes.  If Doe had been traveling in his proper lane (the right lane), Pocallia would have been vacating the lane in her wild move which Doe should have anticipated.  Sorry Doe, you failed to take all reasonable measures to prevent that accident regardless of Pocallia's contribution. 

cetanediesel1
cetanediesel1

What a bunch of scumbags commenting on this. An individual needs to know what is going on around them when they drive. The driver should know what is going on in the lane before they mindlessly move in front of an object traveling at a higher speed than they are. You are more responsible for your own safety than anyone else.  This is the mentality that has brought this country down, its not my responsibility to take care of me, its someone else's.  Wake up and pay attention.  Keep yourself from getting killed.

cbordeaux
cbordeaux

I give my drivers a decal to put were they can continually see it. It reads,  "A DEFENSIVE DRIVER is one who commits no driving errors himself and make allowances for the lack of skill or IMPROPER driving practices of the motorists around his/her vehicle.            ACCIDENTS ARE PREVENTABLE and your are expected to prevent them.

 

Doe allowed his stomach to overrule his brain and wound up on the losing end.

LainaVanbuskirk
LainaVanbuskirk

I am a Safety DIrector for a trucking company.  YES he should have anticipated somone doing this. Whenever you see people breaking in the right lane, you should begin to slow down and anticipate impatient people coming into your lane to avoid the slow down.  The truck driver should have slowed down when he saw the right lane braking.  He should have recognized that they may be slowing down due to an accident or some other reason that might affect his lane also.  Yes it was the Corvettes fault for coming into his lane and ultimately caused an accident but had the driver been DEFENSIVE driving, he should always be aware of his suroundings and realized something was amiss when he saw the right lane braking.  The hype about daydreaming about pizza was a little much but basically in a court of law this would make it look like the driver was NOT paying attention to his surrounding situation and was in a hurry to get to his pizza and did not care if he was defensive driving or not.  This accident MAY NOT have been preventable, but the driver definaltely could have, if going slower, kept control of his truck when he swerved into the right lane to avoid the corvette or still could have jacknifed but the impact would not  have been so severe and the impact less damaging.  Had the driver said I slowed down when I saw the right lane braking and still yet this corvette came into my lane and I swerved to avoid impact and lost control would have set better with me as a safety director than "I was daydreaming about pizza and did not even slow down when I saw the right lane braking".  I live in Ohio and though the speed limit is 65 on my way to work, I would still have been traveling slower than the posted speed limit due to the icy rain the icy roads and the other traffic moving slower.  Common sence plays a big role when driving a big truck.  It should also play a part when driving a corvette, but truck drivers cannot control how other people drive around them irrationally, only that they themselves do not drive irationally.  Had the driver slowed down and tried to avoid the accident and still had the accident, I would not have fired him.  But by his own admission, he was daydreaming about pizza, refused to slow down when he saw the right lane braking and zippng past motorists that were driving slower thant he posted speed limit due to road and weather conditions.  So I agree with the findings of the company on this one.

nick
nick

anticipating that a corvette would enter your path is a joke. Also the writing "daydreaming about pizza" did the driver actually admit that?? I doubt that. He was driving fine in a clear lane until another party swerved into his lane, by avoiding her, he probably saved 100,000  in  legal fees. Had he not had to go to a 10 brake he never would have had to brake. If he ws goin g25 and this happened then what?? the same result and bogus charge 

TONY
TONY

yeah, what happened to "LOOK AHEAD AND ANTICIPATE"??? PLUS ICY RAIN?? EMPTY TRAILER??? RECIPE FOR DISASTER

Jim Dollahan
Jim Dollahan

Doe was traveling distracted, the pizza held his attention at the time. We teach our drivers to drive in the right lane, while he may have had to move to avoid the proposed obstruction, he would not have been in the left lane to be cut off. On another note, if there was in fact an obstruction in the right lane, how did he miss it and hit the light pole? This was preventable on a couple of different levels. Remember, preventable means that the driver failed to do everything within reason to avoid the crash

Paul L
Paul L

I agree that a driver cannot anticipate the actions of everyone around them.  But as the story goes, Doe was traveling the posted speed limit dispite weather making the roads less than safe to travel at that speed.  The bottom line in my book is that the driver must have control of his vehicle.  If he hits his brakes and the vette runs into him or he hits it because the vet suddenly slowed down after popping into his lane that is one thing.  Sterring into the right lane and lossing control could have resulted in much worse than a smashed up truck.  Bottom line is this is preventable because the driver was not within control of his vehicle.

Brockly
Brockly

What happens if driver holds his lane and spins corvette? Preventable or Non Preventable? I agree DOE should have seen traffic slowing on granny lane and should have anticipated corvette coming over, but can you fight it if a driver holds lane and spins car out that came over?

jim bean
jim bean

<After passing some turtle-paced traffic, Doe continued to run in the left lane at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, daydreaming about his imminent arrival at Paul’s Pizza Paradise.>

 

daydreaming during icing conditions? not appropriate, jim bean

nick
nick

Too fast for conditions...But its one of those offenses that can be applied without using overall common sense by the police or safety director. (retired accident investigator, now im a safety director)  Having to avoid a potential accident and getting in one because you avoided it. This is no different then driving the posted limit or below at night and hitting a deer that popped out.

David McQueen
David McQueen

Hypothetically examined in this case of the unlucky driver Doe is the "anticipation" rule.  That is the unwritten (as far as I know) rule that says you must anticipate the potential actions of every driver and react accordingly BEFORE the other driver actually commits the act.  In my humble professional opinion (and experience), it is unreasonable to expect a driver to ancticpate EVERY potential problem.  Certainly, some potential problems are obvious and a driver's action to avoid them is laudable.  However, in this case, the unstated facts lead one to conclude that the hammer lane was open (which is why Doe didn't get back into the granny lane after passing slower vehicles) and that Pocallia was also aware that the right lane was jammed and the left lane was open, hence her swerve leftward in front of Doe.  I thus conclude that Doe did not fail to heed the "anticipation" rule but was guilty of traveling "too fast for conditions", a catch-all violation when one cannot stop quickly enough.  Doe gets burnt on this one but not for the reason the safety director and the NSCARC stated. 

SafetyChic
SafetyChic

Unless there was something else left out of the story, the crash appears to be preventable.