Trucker spurned by merge in downtown delivery. Was this accident preventable?

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Updated Jul 12, 2022
Having just finished his pre-dawn delivery in bustling downtown Chugwater, Wyoming, truck driver John Doe begins to inch his rig forward into rush hour traffic.

A Universal Package Service delivery truck was blocking his path ahead so Doe checks his mirrors and readies himself to gently slide the tractor and trailer over into the right lane.

"Today's off to a good start!" Doe says excitedly upon seeing that Edward Von Helen, piloting his 1984 blue Ford LTD, has stopped to give Doe room to move over on the crowded highway. 

Doe gives Ed the ol' two-finger "thanks" wave and starts to creep his rig to the right. 

Suddenly, David Lee Hagar – who was coming up behind Edward and running late to his job at Diver Down, the local scuba shop – whips his car into the left lane and back into the right lane, cutting off a now-flummoxed Von Helen and headed for the passenger-side fender of Doe's truck. 

Despite his best high-speed effort, D.L. wasn't able to clear the right front bumper from Doe's merging truck – SMUSH! – and was rewarded with a crushed left rear panel for his troubles. 

Was this accident preventable?

Doe's fleet safety manager cited him for a preventable at-fault accident, claiming Doe should have been more proactive in checking his mirrors, adding it was always a possibility that a car could squeeze past the sedan that was attempting to clear Doe's path. Doe appealed the ruling to the National Safety Council, which agreed that Doe should have been more cautious in making the lane change, should have anticipated the possibility of what the agency called "a squeeze play accident" and said with better use of the tractor's mirrors Doe could have avoided the collision entirely.