Driver slams tree in the road in heavy snow — Could trucker have prevented it?

| February 14, 2014

Pg96_PreventableOrNotDrawingTruck driver John Doe was piloting his rig down a remote two-lane highway heading toward Woonsocket, S.D., on a night when the wind was roaring in the middle of a blizzard. 

Doe kept his speed around 35 mph while peering as hard as he could to see through the snow.

Suddenly, his headlights came upon something in the middle of the road — a giant oak fallen across the highway. 


Big rig hits snow bank avoiding dump truck — Could trucker have prevented it?

Truck driver John Doe swerved to the right and into a snow bank to avoid a dump truck who had dipped into his lane and ...

Doe pumped his brakes as hard as he could and then locked his fingers into a death grip on the steering wheel. However, try as he may, he couldn’t stop the rig in time and he slammed into the oak. 

He wasn’t hurt, but the front of his truck was torn up a bit. 

To add injury to insult, Doe was hit several days later with a preventable accident letter from his carrier’s safety director. 

He contested the ruling, and the National Safety Council rendered final judgement. NSC ruled in favor of Doe’s carrier, saying he had been overdriving his headlights and was going too fast for the conditions. 

This was an adaptation of Overdrive sister site CCJ‘s “Preventable or not?” series, which appears regularly on

  • haller

    You people need more than a real job, you need work!!

  • Mike64

    Yeah, I can do without the adaptations they come up with.

  • Ken Nilsen

    Certainly preventable. With all the technology available the driver should have never placed himself in the position to begin with.

  • vrahnos

    Maybe but what if you decieded to just park till the snow storm blew out in a day or two?Get the load deliivered late with no load to pick up cause you were late.So you sit around for three or four days waiting for another load.No money coming in and lots going out and a carrier that doesn’t give a tinkers damn about you.Sound like a fun time to you?So take your tech.and shove it.

  • Deborah L

    Well sitting it out a day or two is a lot better than having a preventable on your dac, a torn up truck, and the possibility he could have been killed in the process. What is the cost of your CDL or life worth.

  • Truckertwotimes

    I’d say ole John Doe’s dickpatcher was expecting him to get the job done and most truck drivers are a get er done type person, so there isn’t any winning situation for a truck driver, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, dickpatchers motto is that “Sleep Is Over rated also” just to add a little humor to the post…

  • Truckertwotimes

    Don’t forget to “Not idle that truck too” Sheesh, can anyone say newagetrucking

  • Jerry

    The National Safety Council did Not have Enuff information to make a ruling; tread depth & tread design possess greater gravity then headlamp viewable distance: The Focal point is blizzard, winter driving requires greater tread depth then sunny summer sunday drivers require. i.e. rear tread depth min.6/10″ Vs. 2/10″. Further, the latest science states, multi-directional tires grip the road far superior then channel design tries. Each of these two issues are by Carriers choice & driver must accept. Since the driver was operating during a blizzard the ability to hydroplane increases greatly. Natl. Safety Council should of demanded greater criteria from the Carrier then to promote arbitrary decision making. (im disappointed…this decision is insulting to logic.)

  • GrabbaGear

    On the next return trip I’d stop by the house, load up a tree and put it on the dispatchers parking spot with a note thanking him for screwing up my dac.

  • vrahnos

    Sorry not me.Not after over 20 years at driving truck.

  • El Bibi Deleon

    Moral of the story is if in a blizzard then park and don’t be a dick if you end up tearing shit up.

  • Animal

    Bad situation. Poor guy hit the only tree in South Dakota. The SD State Tree is just that. The only tree in the state. LOL. Unfortunately in our business, striking a fixed stationary object is almost always deemed to be preventable in virtually every situation for various reasons.
    Don’t have to agree with it, it’s just the way it is and if as a driver we disagree and we appeal and NSC still finds in favor of it being preventable (which they almost always will in a SSFO accident) about all you can do is contact DAC (via the Hire Right website – that’s one way) and register your version and disagreement on the DAC report. You have the right to do that under the Fair Consumer Credit Reporting Act (one of the thousand pages of documents we all sign when we hire on) and by law Hire Right/ DAC has to add your response to the report and they are not allowed to charge you for it. Regularly obtaining and reviewing a full copy of your Hire Right/ DAC (including criminal history and MVR) for accuracy and correct or post your side of any disagreements you have is something I strongly recommend every driver do, even if you have to pay to get the full report. I used to be the one running the reports on applicants and I can not tell you how many times there have been gross inaccuracies, even in the criminal report.

  • BettercallSaul

    How do they know the tree wasnt in the process of falling as he approached it? It may have not been stationary long enough to make that ruling….Better call Saul

  • Animal

    Didn’t say I agreed with the call. Just an opinion on how things work in the real world. There’s three sides to every argument. Side A, Side B and then Reality which is generally a mixture of parts of both A and B. There is no such thing as “the truth”. Only human perception and mental processing of an event and each human perceives from his own perspective and processes information differently.
    The gaps between A, B and Reality are where Attorney Fees are earned. LOL.

  • Jeff Baird

    You don’t ever drive faster than you can see to stop. Every other excuse is BS.

  • Jim Kennedy

    the article didn’t say whether driver’s load was time sensitive or not. it didn’t mention whether the dispatcher was threatening to hold back driver’s pay for being late, etc, etc, etc. Must have more info.

  • Mr. Safety

    BS! While your tire diatribe is correct in a broad sense the fact is you shouldn’t drive faster than you can safely stop based on available visibility. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.