Log Hauler Truck Accidents
Log Hauler trucks carry large loads that are both heavy and high. They have to move around in difficult terrain with gradients. Drivers operating these big rigs require special skill and training. Over-height forestry trucks can cause personal injury, torn down power lines, damage traffic signals, damage overpasses and bridges and damage equipment being hauled. Several precautions should be taken to prevent accidents caused by over-height trucks:
- When planning the route beware of the low bridges along the route and possible detours if the load height exceeds the posted limits.
- Outside logs should not be loaded over the standards on a log trailer. Crowning of interior logs is permissible as long as the total height does not exceed a legal highway maximum of 13 feet 6 inches.
- Measure the height of standards on new trailers and on repaired trailers to be sure an over-height situation does not exist.
- Always use binding chains, straps, or cables with the proper strength requirements for the load. Follow the safety procedures when securing the load.
- Carefully check the load for shifted logs before unbinding.
- Measure the height of the total load after equipment is properly secured for travel.
- Don’t assume all lowboy deck heights are the same. This will influence total load height.
- Over-height loads may have a higher center of gravity, affecting how loads are positioned and affecting truck handling. Dropping a wheel off the pavement could result in a roll-over accident.
- Secure and bind all equipment, including booms and grapples.
- Obtain over-height permits from appropriate state highway agencies and insure that the assigned route is a safe route. Determine low bridge locations on your own as a check.
- Use escort vehicles if required by the state agency.
- Be aware of low obstructions once the hauler leaves the public road system. Power lines and phone lines to temporary structures such as hunting camps, farm buildings, etc. may be too low to pass under.
(a.) Drive According To Road Conditions
Roads can be very slippery after snow or rain, braking technique should be suited to the condition of the road. Driving technique needs to be adjusted to meet these different road conditions.
A log truck driver skidded when turning a corner on an ice-covered road. He lost control of his truck and the truck slammed head-on into an embankment. The force of the truck hitting the embankment drove part of the load through the truck’s bulkhead. The driver was fatally crushed inside the cab by one of the logs that came through the bulkhead.
(b.) Defensive Driving
It’s extremely important to adjust driving technique and speed to meet road conditions, especially roads made slippery by ice or other factors. Drive defensively; expect the unexpected on logging roads. A worker was killed when his crew truck collided with the tracks of a log loader. The log loader was being carried sideways on a low-bed truck. The log loader tracks extended about two feet over each side of the flatbed. The collision happened on a narrow stretch of icy logging road.
- Prevention alert:
- Do not create a wide-load situation on logging roads without informing all potential users of your movements.
- Use radio communication to chart your movements with other road users.
- Make sure all vehicles drive within the accepted speed limits and that driving speeds are reduced in poor road conditions.
(c.) Look For All Approaching Vehicles
A loaded logging truck and an empty low-bed truck collided on a logging road. A mix-up in mileage calls prior to the accident lead to this fatal incident. In this accident, the low-bed driver was instantly killed when the logs from the loaded truck toppled over him and his truck.
- Prevention alert:
- Confirm location of other vehicles before entering critical road sections.
- Follow proper radio calling procedures at all times.
- Use extreme caution when sharing forest service roads with approaching vehicles.
- Radio communications can go wrong – follow safe driving rules.
Two recent logging fatalities stress the importance of defensive driving on logging roads. While climbing up or down the road, one must drive with the possibility of another vehicle being around the next bend. In addition to listening to the radio, driving cautiously according to the road conditions and always being alert and ready for the unexpected are the best precautions one can take.