Pickup truck cuts off tractor-trailer: Could the crash be anything other than 'nonpreventable'?

Updated Nov 29, 2023

Overdrive's sister fleet publication CCJ's long-running "Preventable or Not?" series examines the practice among trucking companies of making internal preventability determinations following accidents as a way to, among other things, examine the things that could have been done prior to and/or during the events of the accident to prevent the crash from occurring.

Preventability determinations, while not the same as a finding of fault in a court of law, are now following carriers large and small around via their records in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's CSA Safety Measurement System, where it's possible to have some crashes formally reviewed, as the National Safety Council has done for decades, and excluded from the record if deemed nonpreventable upon federal review. 

In the video at the top here, you'll find the series reboot with just such a review that puts in high focus the difference between legal fault and preventability.   

It answers the question of whether a tractor-trailer operator who hit a pickup whose driver pulled out right in front of him from a dead stop, when the professional had the right of way ... in other words a clear case of fault on the part of the pickup truck driver. While that's certain, is there any way possible such an accident could be anything other than nonpreventable? Watch the video for the National Safety Council's determination. 

[Related: Preventable, or not: How to DataQ for FMCSA's crash-review program]


Speaker 1: Truck driver John Doe rolled along late at night on a nearly vacant stretch of rural highway at the posted speed limit of 55 mph.

Out of nowhere, the driver of a battered pickup truck, who initially obeyed a stop sign on a side road, suddenly decided to pull onto the highway into the path of Doe’s 18 wheeler!

Doe attempted to force the brake treadle through the floor and applied a two-fisted death grip to the steering wheel, but his panic stop did nothing but flat-spot several tires before his tractor rammed the side of the pickup. Luckily, no one sustained serious injuries.

Doe contested his preventable accident warning letter, claiming that his tractor’s low beams had been on, that he hadn’t been speeding, and that the other driver was to blame. Asked to resolve the dispute, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee upheld the preventable ruling. While Doe admitted to seeing the pickup’s lights at the stop sign, he’d made no effort to slow down and/or sound his air horn in anticipation of the other driver blindly pulling onto the dark highway.

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