Trucker clipped in last-second merge. Was this accident preventable?

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Updated Jun 7, 2022

It was early – pre-rush hour – when trucker John Doe, traveling in the left lane, pulled his rig up to a red light in Why, Arizona. 

Sitting at idle, Doe took the opportunity to dunk his breakfast churro in a large caramel crunch frappe just as a pickup pulled up alongside him at the stoplight. 

When the light turned green, Doe began to push forward and noticed that the right lane was about to come to an end. 

"Dummy," Doe mumbled through a mouth full of mushy churro. "Didn't you see the signs back there to merge left?"

Whether or not he saw the signs no one knows, but seeing the spot he was now in, Tim Buctoo mashed the accelerator of his blue 2002 Chevy S10 Xtreme – putting all 190 hp right into the 16-inch rear wheels.

"No way I'm sitting behind some slow gear-grinding trucker," Buctoo exclaimed as he mimicked manually shifting gears in his 4-speed automatic.

Thinking he had clearance (and running out of lane ahead), Tim swerved into the left lane and ... DONK ... clipped the right front fender of Doe's tractor, sending what was left of his churro onto the floorboard and the frappe into his lap. 

Was this accident preventable?

Doe's fleet manager cited Doe for a preventable accident saying, given the circumstances, Doe should have anticipated the pickup would dart into his lane. "I can't drive my truck and the other guy's truck at the same time," Doe yelled, and appealed the decision to the National Safety Council. The agency agreed with Doe's manager that had Doe been using his mirrors more effectively, he would have seen the pickup attempting to make the pass, and that Doe had the opportunity to give Buctoo enough space to move over safely.