Evasive maneuver puts trailer on its side. Was this accident preventable?

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Updated Feb 1, 2022

It was a rainy afternoon in Slapout, Alabama, and trucker John Doe was southbound on a four-lane divided highway traveling 20 miles per hour under the posted speed limit.

"Safety first!," Doe reminded himself as he creeped through the deluge in the right-hand lane. 

Doe took a leisurely chug from his Diet Dr. Dew before noticing up ahead another safety-minded motorist putting along at just 35 mph in the 65 mph zone. 

Peering through his rain-speckled side-mirrors, Doe saw that the left lane was all clear and merged to make the pass. Just as Doe cleared the pickup, Johnny LaRusso, driving his neighbor's 1947 Ford Super De Luxe, zipped across the intersection into the lane occupied by Doe's rig.

Doe jerked the wheel to the right to avoid colliding with LaRusso but the evasive maneuver caused his load – 22 pallets of H.R. Ruffnstuff dog food – to shift. Doe fought the wobbly trailer for a few seconds, but TIMBEEERRRRR! His trailer laid over on its side.

Was this accident preventable?

Doe's fleet safety manager ruled that the accident was preventable, adding that Doe should have seen the car waiting to cross the north and southbound lanes and exercised more caution. Doe protested and appealed to the National Safety Council, which overruled Doe's boss. The agency noted that Doe took appropriate action to avoid being side-swiped and that he could not have anticipated LaRusso would have darted across two lanes of traffic and a median to get in front of him.