A common type of vehicular accident is the sudden pullout where a vehicle unexpectedly enters another's path. In this case, a box truck makes a left turn in front of a pickup truck. The pickup hits the rear of the box truck and seriously injures the pickup's driver.

The box truck driver argued that the fault lay with the pickup driver. He said he was traveling across the intersection at only 5 mph and the pickup driver had plenty of distance and time to stop before impact. He also said that the impact occurred in the extreme right lane at a point where he had practically gotten through the intersection.

The pickup driver said that the box truck had suddenly moved into his lane. He also said that he had swerved towards the left to avoid and that the accident occurred in the left lane.

It was therefore important to determine where the impact occurred. If it was in the right lane and the box truck was going 5 mph, then the pickup driver would have had forever to recognize the situation. If, however, the impact occurred in the left lane, then the pickup driver could have been surprised by the situation. The police report corroborated the pickup driver, but had no measurements of the scene. However, the dent on the pickup had a sharp angle. If the accident had occurred in the right lane, the dent would have been more flat across the front because the box truck would have been more perpendicular to the pickup. The mechanics of the accident also supported this scenario.

The box truck driver's statement that he was only going 5 mph was suspect. Our observations of traffic making that turn showed that no vehicles ever went that slowly. Even heavier trucks could double that speed. The final nail in the box driver's testimony was the statement of a driver stopped at the intersection who saw the truck making the turn. He remarked to his son that he didn't think the truck would be able to make the turn because of its high speed.

We discuss this accident and similar accidents at length in our Fall 2005 Newsletter, "Jackrabbit Large Trucks".