Doe no match for midnight snow, fallen tree. Was this accident preventable?

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Updated Feb 28, 2022

Trucker John Doe was traveling through Dummer, New Hampshire, and battling a late-March snow storm as the clock struck midnight.

"Parts of Central New Hampshire can get more than a foot of snow in the month of March," Doe, a self-professed weather geek, muttered to himself, "but at this rate, we'll get that much in an hour."

Doe, pulling a 53-foot dry van loaded with aircraft parts, settled in at a brisk 35 mph – well below the posted 55 mph limit on the poorly lit state route. 

After taking the last chug of his now-lukewarm truck stop hot coco, Doe saw something in the road up ahead. A white pine tree had toppled across the highway, and as Doe's luck would have it he was the first vehicle on the scene. 

He applied the brakes but to no avail. CRUUUNNCCHHH! Doe plowed into the tree, sending pine needles into the air and a few squirrels to physical therapy. 

Was this accident preventable?

The fleet's safety manager cited Doe for a preventable accident, claiming Doe was driving too fast for the weather conditions. Doe protested, saying he was driving 20 mph under the posted limit, and appealed to the National Safety Council. The agency agreed with Doe's boss – that he was driving too fast for blizzard conditions – adding that had Doe been going slower, his headlights could have illuminated the tree before he rammed it.