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Operator tops hill, slams jackknifed flatbedder — Could he have prevented it?

| March 07, 2014

Pg108_PreventableOrNotDrawingTruck driver John Doe was making his way through a bad spring snow storm on an empty four-lane highway, hauling a big load of parkas. 

The posted speed limit was 65, but the conditions had Doe traveling at just 35 mph, but behind him a flatbed driver coming up fast. 


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

Truck driver John Doe was caught in a bad blizzard on a dark road in the middle of South Dakota when he suddenly came up ...

The flatbedder then zipped past Doe in the left lane disappeared into the storm ahead. Shortly after, the snow eased some and visibility improved, so Doe took his speed up to 55. 

Doe then topped a hill and proceeded down a long, moderately graded decline that curved to the right. 

Suddenly, halfway down, there was the flatbed that had passed him jackknifed and stretching across the entirety of the highway. The road was glazed with ice, and Doe could hardly slow his rig down, but he was able to steer toward the rear of the flatbed trailer.

He struck the trailer, pushing it aside, then slid to a stop. 

Shortly thereafter, he received a preventable-accident letter from his safety director. The National Safety Council Accident Review Committee made the final judgment in the case, ruling against Doe. The committee ruled Doe was blindly driving down the hill and was going faster than what the conditions warranted.

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

  • Thompson Pass Trucker

    The only safe truck, according to most of the safety directors…is a parked truck. But unfortunately, even they get charged with preventables when they’re hit by some other moving vehicle.

    Companies have to decide whether they want freight moved – which will require vehicles to be loaded and in motion – or not. In this case the flatbedder should have been charged for creating the road-blocking hazard by over-driving the conditions in the first place. He’s the one who lost control of the vehicle. It sounds like Doe was exercising due-diligence on the roads considering the time, route and general conditions. It is unrealistic to think that EVERY situation is avoidable; some defy explanation and anticipation.

  • eddy

    If he wasn’t able to see the truck in time to stop he was going to fast for conditions.

  • truckdriverkan

    I agree with eddy.

  • Zachary Bell

    Both drivers were TOO FAST FOR CONDITIONS. They should have only been going 35-40 MPH TOPS. I know crashes like this are PREVENTABLE and in this case, by BOTH parties involved.

  • Cory Hoover

    He came around a curve and saw the flatbed blocking the road. If it has just a slight glaze of ice even at 25 he wouldn’t have been able to stop

  • John M. Baxter

    I figured Doe would find the preventable ruling would stick. He should have been more cautious, though it’s quite true he did act a little cautiously and did get fooled by a sudden change in conditions that would have been hard to anticipate.

  • Joe

    a definition of an accident given from a friend – a mishap that could have been prevented if all parties involved were not going to fast for conditions, or if a part broke that should have been spotted in an inspection.

  • Del Ray Johnson

    @Thompson are we going to be honest? How many times in a snow storm near blizzard is another guy speedy pass you only to end up in the ditch! And if we are being honest I have notice that those drivers are normally in Petes!

  • Thompson Pass Trucker

    I don’t know who your friend is but find this definition refreshing simple and straightforward, though I cringe slightly at the “going too (sic) fast for conditions” (or any inclusion of moving) part. There are those who have been hit by another while stopped and charged with preventable.

    Only two further comments: I usually use the term “stupidents” to describe ‘preventable’s’. The driver who passed under these conditions, then ended up across the road was guilty of a stupident. And; as I said above, there are times when ‘not moving’ is the only way to ‘prevent’ some things from happening – and that’s not progress, it’s more like Congress.

    I have been in situations where I was going oh-so-slow and hit the brakes. The truck came to a sliding halt, fully stopped, then slid further either into contact with something or into a snowbank or off the edge of the pavement because it was so slick. Your choice! Park it, or drive it. Oh, but the boss wanted the load delivered.

    Egregiously fast driving for conditions – and the speedometer is relative – is preventable. But when taking all due precaution while moving isn’t good enough commerce comes to a stop.

    Then let all who have NEVER overshot anything throw their stones. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.