Left Hand Turn - Motorcycle


DATE: 04/30/2010


REFERENCE: Car, Truck and Bus Driver Safety Tips for Motorcycles


How the Incident Occurred

Near the end of his work day, a CDL-licensed maintenance technician had just picked up a straight truck from the company warehouse several blocks away and was driving it back to the garage where it was due to be serviced that evening by the 2nd shift. With his left turn signal on, he stopped and waited impatiently for the two lanes of oncoming evening hour rush-hour traffic to clear before he began his turn.

Seeing a slight break in traffic ahead, he eased his foot off of the clutch and then punched the accelerator hard to hurry across the two lanes as soon as the last car had passed. After looking ahead he then looked back to the right and realized that he had failed to observe an oncoming motorcycle that had been right behind the last car.

Unable to stop in time, the motorcyclist slid underneath the truck and was run over by the left rear truck tandems.

Injury/Damage Information

Motorcyclist; male, age 42; husband and father of 3 was DOS from multiple internal injuries; Motorcycle totaled

Truck/technician; no damage or injuries

The post collision DOT review revealed that the trucking company, although maintaining qualification files on their over-the-road drivers, had failed to do so for their maintenance employee/drivers. As a result, the technician’s DOT physical, annual review and MVR were all expired by over two years. In addition, the trucking company had not conducted random drug and alcohol testing on the maintenance employee/driver CDL-holders.

The technician’s MVR, Post Accident Drug and Alcohol tests eventually all came back clear and he was not cited in the collision. However the ensuing DOT Compliance Review Rated the trucking company Unsatisfactory due to a combination of the Driver Qualification, D&A issues as well as failing to require drivers to submit logs within 13 days of completion. Closed citations totaling $7,000 were issued for log falsifications.

The trucking company was ultimately sued by the victim’s family; final verdict found them negligent in allowing unqualified employees to operate their equipment in normal course of business resulting in a $1.2 million settlement in favor of the plaintiff.

Causative factors

Prior to this collision, the company had no DOT recordable collisions in over 24 months. Their Vehicle out of Service rate was well below the national average. However Insurance Loss Control found numerous instances of minor body repairs as result of collisions involving parking lot incidents such as turning, backing and striking fixed objects. Only 20% of these incidents were substantiated by a driver report of accident. The physical damage as a result of the unreported incidents had all been charged back to the maintenance department as a standard operating expense with no one being held accountable.

This particular employee/driver had first obtained his CDL after originally applying for a technician position with the company. A CDL was a condition of his employment in order to be able to do pickup and delivery, but he was never administered a road test nor had he been given defensive driving training through the company safety department. He’d been involved in a minor collision just 3 months prior which had also occurred just prior to the end of his shift. That incident had occurred while he was pulling a truck out of the wash bay. He struck a building support pillar and damaged the left side of the van body of the truck he was operating. He admitted to being in a hurry because he had to leave work to go pick up his kids at the babysitter and would incur extra charges if he was late. No remedial action had been taken as a result of that incident.

Remedial actions

  • All employee/drivers must be DOT qualified, the same as company OTR drivers
  • All incidents, no matter how minor, must be reported.
  • Company should develop and enforce a written policy on: o A Definition of Preventable Incident o The Maximum # of Preventable Incidents including;
  • Injuries, collision and near misses
  • Moving violations
  • Hours of Service violations
  • Failure to follow company safety policy
  • Hold employees accountable for all violations of company safety policy.
  • Provide defensive driving training for all OTR and employee/drivers at least annually. Suggested topics: o Speed and Space Management o Hazard Recognition o What to do at the Scene of an Accident
  • Re-route pick-up and delivery return route to take longer way back to shop that allows a right hand turn from traffic flow when pulling back into garage lot rather than a left hand turn against uncontrolled traffic flow.
  • Heighten motorcycle safety awareness as weather improves.
  • At an intersection – Look; Look; then Look again. At an intersection – Think! Look twice for motorcycles.

Support Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May!