Fog-blind trucker veers into barrier to miss oncoming, swerving rig: Preventable?

Updated Apr 26, 2024
Transcript

It was 2 a.m., and truck driver John Doe was pulling in rainy conditions on a tight two-lane highway bounded by concrete barriers on either side. Coming around a tight curve, an oncoming truck suddenly blinded Doe with high-beam headlights, also swerving into his lane. Doe did what most anybody would, and turned to the shoulder to miss the oncoming rig. 

Yet that wasn't the end of the events of that early morning. What little shoulder existed turned out to be mush and caused him to lose full control of his truck, whereupon he crashed into the concrete barrier.

The story is the among the latest in Overdrive sister publication CCJ's "Preventable or Not?" video series, detailing crash preventability scenarios that have been analyzed by the National Safety Council's accident review committee. As in other cases featured in the CCJ series, Doe's accident was judged to be preventable by his carrier's safety director, but he appealed to the NSC for the final determination. Watch the video above to find out where the committee landed.

Did they make the right call? 

Preventability as a standard, as we've written before, stands to hold more import for motor carriers of all shapes and sizes as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continues the Crash Preventability Determination Program. Changes proposed in 2023 to the crash types that can be reviewed in the program should offer expanded possibility for requesting determinations for crashes like Doe's, particularly when video evidence clearly demonstrates the circumstances of the crash. Under the terms of the CPDP, carriers involved in a variety of crashes can use FMCSA's DataQs system to request a preventability review. If deemed "nonpreventable," the crash is then excluded from the carrier's scores in the CSA Safety Measurement System's crash category.  

Hear more in the way of advice around the importance of having clearly nonpreventable crashes reviewed in this early-2024 edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast: 

Find more in the "Preventable or Not?" series via this link.  

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[Related: FMCSA offering 'kinder, gentler' approach to safety scoring? Not if automated inspections go live]


Find more information on the ins and outs of the DataQs system for challenging crashes and violations in Chapter 15 of the newly updated Overdrive/ATBS-coproduced "Partners in Business" book for new and established owner-operators, a comprehensive guide to running a small trucking business sponsored for 2024 by the Rush Truck Centers dealer networkClick here to download the most recent edition of Partners in Business free of charge.

Transcript

At 2 am, John Doe was rolling northward on a two-lane highway with a lumber-laden flatbed in tow. His wipers beat back a misty rain falling through the fog. 

Noting a “Construction Ahead” sign, he reduced his speed to 50 mph. The highway appeared devoid of traffic and was bordered on both sides by a concrete barrier.

Rounding a blind curve, Doe was dazed by the high-beam headlights of an oncoming truck that was swinging wide to avoid side-swiping the barrier on the inside of the curve.

Traveling at 50 mph around a curve on a slick road, Doe realized he had little chance of panic stopping without jackknifing, so he headed for the narrow shoulder. 

Doe lost control on its mush surface and struck the concrete barrier.

Doe contested the warning letter for a preventable accident he received from his safety director, claiming the other truck was solely to blame. Asked to intervene, the National Safety Council’s accident review committee upheld the “preventable” ruling, noting that Doe was clearly going too fast for conditions.

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