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