21 December 2010
Log truckers are asking other road users to be patient and to give them space this summer.
"The forest industry is going gangbusters and many of the plantations being logged are in hill country near popular holiday destinations. The roads are often narrow and winding with few places to overtake," says Warwick Wilshier, chair of the Log Transport Safety Council.
"Our drivers are professionals. They will pull over where they can to let traffic through. But safety is their first priority, as it must be for all drivers on the road."
If trucks pull off the road itself, they run the risk of getting bogged or worse still, rolling over if the road margin collapses. Motorists need to be patient and respect the trucker's decision as to where it's safe to pull over.
"Many motorists also need to take more care before deciding to overtake," Mr Wilshier says.
"Overtaking is the most dangerous thing we do when driving because it means putting ourselves in the path of oncoming vehicles. So you should do it only when there is plenty of time and clear road to complete the manoeuvre safely.
"Our drivers are trained to be extremely vigilant and they need to be. Time and again they have to take evasive action because of the ridiculous things motorists do in order to reach their destination a minute or two earlier."
Giving trucks space is important. When large vehicles are turning they sometimes need to swing out across lanes and should not be overtaken while they are doing this.
"Forty four tonnes of laden lorry also needs more distance to stop than a 1-tonne car. So don't cut in front of them after passing, especially if there is a compulsory stop ahead."
Mr Wilshier says nearly all log truckers have a prominent 0800 LOG TRUCK placard on the back of their vehicles. This means they are committed to road safety and professionalism.
"If you feel a trucker has been particularly courteous or helpful, ring the 0800 number and record your thanks. On the other hand, if you see evidence of dangerous driving or other unsafe practices, let us know about that too. All messages get back to drivers and their employers."
The 0800 LOG TRUCK number is one of several successful safety initiatives that the forest industry and log truckers have been working on for more than 10 years.
Forest Owners Association transport spokesperson Brian Pritchard says the industry is aware that many motorists fear log trucks more than other heavy vehicles. But this fear no longer has any basis in fact.
"Rollovers involving log trucks have dropped from 6.5 for every 5 million kilometres travelled in 1998 to less than 1 today. Log trucks are now as safe, or safer, than other classes of heavy vehicle."
He says log trucks have every right to be on the roads. Indeed they are the public face of New Zealand's third biggest export industry – one that helps build the prosperity of all New Zealanders.
"Over the holidays, if you get stuck behind a log truck on a winding road, use the time to reflect on the fact that many of your Christmas presents and holiday toys were probably bought with overseas funds generated in part by logs like the ones on the truck in front of you."
For more information, please contact Warwick Wilshier, Tel 021 444 050 or Brian Pritchard 021 900 201