Log trucks toll of horror in Northland

By Kristin Edge


Figures tallying logging truck accidents in Northland reveal  just two months into 2013, the number of crashes is soaring and has already almost caught up with 2011 figures, with eight accidents so far this year.

Police statistics related to logging truck crashes released to the Northern Advocate yesterday show there have been 72 crashes since 2008, including three crashes in 10 days in the Whangarei area.

Last year there was a spike, with 21 reported crashes involving logging trucks in the region.

Police are issuing a succinct message to truck drivers - slow down.

Highway patrol Senior Sergeant John Fagan said the latest crash on Otaika Valley Rd on Wednesday - the scene of numerous logging truck crashes and a fatality in 2012 - was totally avoidable.

"The challenge for logging truck companies is around their drivers taking due care and attention, and around driving their vehicles in a way that is safe for road users.

"Especially on Otaika Valley Rd, they need to slow down."

Mr Fagan said the majority of accidents on Otaika Valley Rd and the associated link road, Loop Rd, involved drivers taking corners too fast.

"These guys in these big trucks have to slow right down. They drive it every day and they know that road and what it's like."

He said the 21 crashes last year had to be looked at in the context of how many logging trucks were on the roads.

"You only have to look around the region and see how many trees there are, so the number of trucks is only going to increase.

"At the end of the day, we all have to use the road and we all have to drive to the conditions."

The police were working with other agencies who were a part of the Northland Freight Group to come up with ideas on how to reduce the number of logging truck incidents, Mr Fagan said.

Northland Freight Group spokesman Daron Turner said the group itself had not identified excessive speed as a major factor in the spate of Northland crashes, but the industry was addressing that issue.

"We do various things within the industry to ensure drivers are doing the correct speed, including both roadside [speed guns] and electronic [GPS] monitoring.

"Typically, as in the two recent accidents, they have been at low speed where driver inattention and driving conditions are the more prominent factors."

Mr Turner said issues the transport group had identified in Northland mostly related to the type of road the trucks were operating on, "where the margin of error for the driver is reduced significantly when compared to travelling on the state highway".

The legal speed for a truck and trailer unit on the open road is 90km/h.

Northland's logging truck crashes in numbers:

  • 2010 - 15

  • 2011 - 9

  • 2012 - 21

  • 2013 - 8 so far

- Northern Advocate

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