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Preventable or not: Trucker’s wide left doesn’t go right

John Doe attempted to execute a wide left but still was struck by a bus whose driver didn’t turn sharply enough. Was this a preventable accident?

John Doe attempted to execute a wide left but still was struck by a bus whose driver didn’t turn sharply enough. Was this a preventable accident?

At dawn, trucker John Doe ambled toward the ready line with a granola bar and a jug of steaming hot coffee for extra pep. The day’s tow was a 48-foot flatbed laden with steel coils. After his pretrip inspection, Doe wheeled his rig out of the terminal yard and headed eastward on four-lane Pickwick Pike. The sun rose in a cloudless sky, and traffic was light.

Doe looked forward to an easy trip, but his milk run was about to go sour. Pickwick Pike dead-ended at Route 7, where he needed to turn left. To ensure room for a wide turn, Doe got into the right lane, and when the light turned green, he eyeballed Route 7 for red-light runners, then cautiously started to execute his turn.

In the adjacent turn lane, bus driver Wilbur Smurd also started to turn left, but he didn’t turn sharply enough and moved partially into the next lane. In shocked disbelief, Doe stopped dead and sounded his horn, but Smurd failed to react and sideswiped Doe’s tractor. It took another granola bar to calm Doe down, but even that couldn’t help him get over the warning letter he received from his safety director for a preventable accident.

Doe disagreed that he should have hung back and anticipate that the large bus would encroach on his lane. Asked to resolve the dispute, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee ruled in Doe’s favor. He had proceeded with caution and reacted properly but still fell prey to the bus driver, who had plenty of room to maneuver and initially did not appear to pose a threat, NSC said.

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