Logging truck industry defends road safety standards

By Cassandra Mason

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A seemingly bad year for logging truck accidents has seen a reported 11 deaths in New Zealand so far, but those in the industry say misreporting is giving logging trucks a bad name.

Logging Truck Safety Council secretary Bruce Nairn said that while he knew of one confirmed logging truck driver death this year, many of the accidents reported were incorrect.

He said this created the perception that the dangers of logging trucks were higher than reality.

He said the accident between Ohakune and National Park that killed four people in July this year actually involved a general freight truck, not a logging truck as reported in the media.

"We get really annoyed and concerned. Every time it happens we try to get it corrected and we can't."

Logging trucks have also tended to be involved in a high number of suicide attempts, tarnishing their reputation further.

"The sad thing for our industry is it seems to attract a lot of people committing suicide.

"It's traumatic for the drivers. I know two or three personally and it's changed their lives."

Automobile Association (AA) spokesman Mark Stockdale said despite media reports, logging truck accidents were not an issue that had been brought to the AA's attention this year.

He said a spate of logging accidents in the 1990s had led to a change in operating rules and vehicle configuration.

"They were issues around centre of gravity and the loading of logging trucks, which were addressed through amending the rules and procedures."

He said the changes had since had a huge positive impact on logging truck safety.

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