Log truck operation combines two of the more dangerous professions in America: logging and trucking. Accidents in these professions prove fatal more often than many other industries.
Avoiding the risks associated with a truck accident involve knowing what to look for and what to do. Most of the time an accident will be caused by the combination of dangers that the truck brings to the road. However, knowing how to drive carefully when around a big rig may save you time and injury.
Get educated on the proper ways to report an accident. This helps keep truck accident statistics robust and it helps others spot dangers before they become accidents.
Living in the South, you know how vital resource hauling and procurement are to the economy. Help keep that lifeblood flowing by being vigilant.
Log Truck Dangers
Semi-trucks on the road perform a vital service moving materials across the nation. However, their size and the variety of cargo they carry pose risks to other drivers. Log trucks in particular host a myriad of dangers that can cause damage to the road, other vehicles, and the rig itself.
Many of these dangers will not prove fatal. To help keep them from becoming so, it is better to know the risks and make adjustments. Even if you have to pull off the road and give a log truck some space, it’s a small price to pay to avoid issues.
Other vehicles face the most violent dangers posed by a log truck. Between the large size of the vehicle and the cargo, the force of accidents quickly pushes into more serious injury territory.
The undercarriage of the trailer can cause issues for smaller cars and motorcycles because air sucks into the gap as the vehicle moves. When passing on either side of a log truck this can make compensating difficult.
Logs carried by a semi-truck create issues for cars behind it. The distance between a car and the end of a log might be ignored and in the instance of a sudden stop, cause an accident.
Log trucks often feature multi-part trailers connected together with hitches and other chassis extensions. These make the truck turn widely and also tend to weave in strong winds or when the road conditions create uneven travel. Swaying trailers pose a risk for cars passing and also make gauging distance to the rear of the trailer difficult.
Loaders do their best to ensure logs settle and get tightly secured before transport. However, the chains that secure the logs can come loose or snap from tension, showering the road with chunks of metal. Blown tires can cause damage to vehicles behind as the steel-reinforced rubber rips out and shoots behind the truck.
Logs may get dislodged or come loose in transit. While they do not commonly fall out of the load, any slippage can create additional length at the end of the trailer. Shifting of the load makes handling of the vehicle difficult, especially up and down hills.
Shifting logs pose the largest threat to the rig and driver of a log truck. Logs shifting forward down a hill can pierce the cabin. Shifting logs also make the possibility of a rollover much higher for log trucks than other freight vehicles.
Multiple trailer setups increase the possibility of fishtailing. When this happens, the trailer moves side to side, independent of the motion of the rig. This can lead to turnovers and also poses a hazard to other traffic which may be hit when a trailer comes into their lane.
The massive weight of a fully loaded log truck makes stopping and starting a slow process. A semi-truck doesn’t have the ability to stop suddenly if a vehicle in front of it suddenly stops. The large profile of the cab makes seeing directly in front of the vehicle difficult to near impossible.
Untrained or simply unsavvy motorists that cut too close in front of a truck when passing may become invisible. When this happens, any reduction in speed from the motorist can have a catastrophic effect on the truck and the cargo behind it.
Finally, mechanical failures in the rear of the truck assembly may not be easily noticed and may be impossible to compensate for. The changes in handling from a lack of rear brakes, a blown tire, or a bent axle all make keeping control of the truck difficult.
The final category of dangers posed by a log truck effect roads. Roads don’t last forever, every mile traveled by a vehicle wears down the material. Semi-trucks weigh more, so it isn’t surprising that they do more wear and tear to a road than a smaller car.
While all vehicles cause road wear, not all can cause immediate damage. Cargo falling from a truck can instantly pit or mar a road. Tire chains with immense weight on top can chip the seal allowing moisture in to expand cracks and holes.
Roads which already have a measure of damage from pitting, tearing and cracking will be pushed further apart, hastening their demise.
Log trucks frequently travel from rural and primitive road areas onto highways and freeways. These transitions may load tires up with stones which can crater a road or become dislodged and hit traffic behind them.
Rural roads hold more dangers than freeways for reasons similar to these. In fact, 61% of fatal crashes occur on rural roads.
Trucks have large profiles, which can make passing on narrow roads dangerous. Trucks crossing through poorly lit intersections may create an unseen blockage for cross-traffic. Semi-truck drivers may misgauge the size of a load and become wedged inside tunnels or under overpasses.
Log Truck Safety Features
Manufacturers and operators of log trucks have not disregarded the dangers listed. Many safety features have been designed to compensate for or reduce the occurrence of each of these issues. Policies and training for operators also update constantly to try and prevent as many issues as possible.
Safety features work when they are well-maintained and policies are followed thoroughly. The following list of safety features gives you something to look out for. If a log truck near you has failing safety features, it would be best to try to get away from it.
To keep cargo safe, many features have been developed to limit or prevent shifting and loss.
The stakes at the sides of a log truck trailer have been developed to hold the cargo in a fashion that won’t allow it to roll up and over in a strong wind or when turning.
Mountings on trailers have been reinforced so that straps and chains will not slip or suffer catastrophic failures. Straps and chains themselves feature visual tells that they are getting old and weak, from fraying on straps to colored linkages on chains.
Cable linkages connecting extra and pup trailer parts now have indicators in the cab which will tell the operator if a cable has come loose or if there is a failure of the brake line.
Cabs feature reinforced metal plates dubbed “headache racks” which limit logs ability to pierce into the rig. Anti-lock brakes help regulate speeds on trailers to limit fishtail incidents. Tires provide better traction with smaller tread patterns which stop rock carrying from occurring.
Trailers benefit from newer and more efficient lights. LEDs and reflective strips help motorists see the motion of trailers.
Dash, hood, and rear cameras can feed information to the operator on hard to see areas of trucks. Though slow to implement because of their cost and general wear from off-road conditions, these features provide valuable safety information.
Every year Departments of Transportation in every state review and update policies for commercial vehicles and freight. New technology gets introduced and older technology gets phased out.
Interstates have widened over the years, which provides needed space for vehicles to avoid impacting each other when passing. Internal sensors in modern vehicles can alert if following distances are poor. These provide reaction time and maneuvering options for operators and motorists.
Runaway truck ramps are installed and maintained on hills. This helps prevent trucks from colliding with traffic further downhill in the event of a fishtail or brake failure. These areas contain a lot of loose material to absorb speed and impact force.
Organizations such as the Forest Resources Association provide guides for industry regulations, training materials, and resources for companies internally.
Crackdowns on driver fatigue arrived through increased monitoring of border stations and log books going electronic. DMVs have added more sections for motorists about how to drive around and near larger freight vehicles, as well.
In the Event of an Accident
No matter how many safety features get introduced, there will always be risks involved with being on the road. That risk, as noted, increases for and around log trucks.
When an accident does occur, knowing what to do and what not to do will help you navigate the situation. This may save you time and money on repairs and injury. Also, it may help to alert authorities to road conditions and prevent further accidents in a chain reaction.
It may only serve to provide more thorough information for accident statistics. Even that much can influence future DOT policy and assist the development of new safety technology.
Filing a report with police and insurance will help to get the information clear right away. Many states have expectations of assistance to others in an accident. Read through the following dos and don’ts to know how to proceed.
In an accident, it’s easy to overlook crucial details and react poorly. Be aware of your responsibilities and the pitfalls.
What To Do
If the accident directly involves you and your vehicle, stay at the scene. Leaving not only puts you at risk for serious criminal penalties, but it may hinder an investigation into what happened. Fault almost always automatically transfers to a person leaving an accident.
If you are not injured, check on any other passengers or drivers involved. Call for help and stay calm.
If you or another person has become pinned in a vehicle, assess damage and if any immediate threats are present.
Take pictures of the scene and nearby signage. Take note of the road conditions or any contributing factors.
Cooperate with authorities when they arrive. Answer questions to the best of your ability. Don’t speculate, only talk about what you know.
If you feel that other drivers were at fault, contact a trucking accident lawyer early to begin the vital investigation processes.
What Not To Do
Don’t panic. Panicking at the scene will only cause further problems. Specifically, if you are injured in the accident, stay still and wait for help.
Don’t leave the scene for any reason. Don’t attack other people at the scene, even if you feel they are at fault. Rage only contributes to problems.
Don’t speculate what other drivers may or may not have been thinking or doing prior to the accident. This can cause problems for officers on the site trying to figure out what’s going on.
Don’t accept excuses or bribes from others involved in the accident. Responding to such behavior may be criminal. Responding to such behavior also puts you in a negative light for future litigation or insurance claims.
Being involved in an accident can be a frightening event. Given the dangers of an accident to begin with, and then adding in the dangers outlined for a log truck, the experience can be traumatic.
The most important thing is to avoid an accident by being aware of your situation and the vehicles around you, but when accidents happen you should seek professional help and advice as soon as possible. Contact us for a consultation and get some perspective early.
We want to help you get back to your life and a sense of security on the road. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our work. We want to help you and to keep vital industries working for the people, not against them, in the great state of Louisiana.