Preventable or not: Driver deals with snack attack

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Updated Sep 3, 2019
John Doe backed his tractor-trailer blindly to the left and into the restaurant parking lot, where he rear-ended a departing customer. Was this a preventable accident?John Doe backed his tractor-trailer blindly to the left and into the restaurant parking lot, where he rear-ended a departing customer. Was this a preventable accident?

Soothed by Willie Nelson’s gravel-voiced rendition of his classic “On The Road Again,” trucker John Doe proceeded down Route 99 toward his next delivery stop, at Perky’s Pancake House. It was dawn, with the sun rising slowly in a cloudless sky, and Doe’s tractor-trailer was just about the only vehicle on the road. After arriving at Perky’s, Doe saw the restaurant was not yet open for the day’s business, with its parking lot empty … except for a small pink Toyota.

Doe figured it probably was the manager’s car until he spied a would-be patron peering hungrily through the restaurant’s front window. Indeed, the car belonged to ravenous Rachael Rathbone, who’d arrived 30 minutes too early for Strawberry Delight Hotcakes and black coffee. Doe returned to the task at hand and began backing blindly to the left and into Perky’s parking lot.

At the same time, the frustrated Rathbone, suffering from caffeine withdrawal, decided to abandon Perky’s and drive up Route 99 to the International House of Waffles, which already was open. Preoccupied with gaining access to food, Rathbone began to back blindly out of her parking space … WHAMMO!!! … and directly into the path of Doe’s trailer, damaging her trunk.

Doe later contested the preventable-accident warning letter he received from his safety director, saying Rathbone had backed into him. Asked to settle the dispute, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee upheld the preventable decision, noting that Doe knew the store was closed and should have anticipated Rathbone’s possible departure. Doe should have sounded his horn to alert Rathbone before backing into the occupied parking area, NSC ruled.