Second logging crash in a week

By Lindy Laird

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A loose object in a driver's cab helped the notorious Otaika Valley Rd roll its second logging truck trailer in a week.

No-one was hurt in the incident at midday yesterday in which a fully-loaded logging truck's trailer tipped over after getting caught in loose metal on the side of the road. The truck veered to the left across the road and was undamaged.

The owners, Smith and Davies NZ, estimate between $50,000 and $100,000 damage was done to the trailer.

One lane was blocked for two hours while the trailer and logs were recovered.

Acting Sergeant Mike Greenwood, from Whangarei police, said it was not yet known if yesterday's incident involved speed or driver error.

Speed was thought to be a factor in last week's logging crash, which saw a trailer of logs spill across a different stretch of the same road.

Mr Greenwood said police were increasingly concerned and frustrated about the number of logging truck crashes in Northland.

Otaika Valley Rd connects State Highway 14 at Maungatapere and State Highway 1 near Portland. It is estimated by 2020 about 226 trucks will use the route as Northland's forests matured.

Daron Turner, general manager of Smith and Davies NZ, said the driver in yesterday's mishap had been momentarily distracted by an item rolling on the floor of the cab.

Mr Turner said his company and others in the industry were working hard on driver training and road safety issues.

He said he was aware the road was "heavily travelled" and would get busier. Whangarei District Council, the trucking industry, road safety and transport authorities were running an education campaign to get truck drivers to slow down on corners, Mr Turner said.

The programme encourages truck drivers to take corners 10km/h slower than the recommended speed, and has resulted in "10km below" signs being erected on Otaika Valley Rd.

Otaika Valley resident Shari Pilkington said local people were increasingly concerned about the amount of heavy traffic on the road.

"They go very fast and that's not a road you can speed down. I don't think that road's wide enough. There are lots of smaller roads off it, there's a school bus that uses it and it's a through road between two highways.

"I know several people who would go for walks but they can't because they're too scared of the trucks hurtling down that road."

Whangarei District Council roading engineer Greg Monteith said there were no plans to widen or change the road camber.

"This road is heavily used and currently extensive logging is adding to the traffic flow. People take great care when driving and using roads for other activities and we endorse that careful approach," Mr Monteith said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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