Six road crashes involving just logging trucks in Northland since December is a "very poor" statistic which the trucking industry should take note of, the region's transport committee chairman says.

John Bain made the comments while responding to the number of logging truck crashes involving no other vehicles, saying any crash on Northland roads was of concern and more so when it involved vehicles carrying large loads.

This month alone, there have been three logging truck crashes, and Bain said there would always be one or two drivers who would try to extend the number of trips and their qualified hours of work.

Yesterday, a logging truck's trailer tipped and spilled its load on Pouto Rd, near Schick Rd, south of Dargaville, about 9.15am.


The road was re-opened three hours later.

On Tuesday, a fully laden trailer carting logs tipped over while going up a hill just south of Kawakawa, blocking the southbound lane.

The truck and trailer belonging to a Ruakaka company was heading south when its trailer tipped over.

On August 6, the door of a logging truck had to be prised open with a crowbar to free the trapped driver after the truck and trailer unit rolled on State Highway 15/Mangakahia Rd.

Logs spilled into a paddock and some went across the road, closing it to heavy traffic north of Twin Bridges, near Gammon Rd.

"We're extremely disappointed with the number of crashes we're having and that includes logging trucks. The six crashes involving logging trucks since December is a very poor statistic and the trucking industry should be taking note of that," Bain said.

Generally speaking, he said many professional truck drivers were equally concerned about the high number of crashes involving logging trucks.

First Union, which represents logging truck drivers in Northland, blamed low pay, fatigue, and road condition among other things for the number of crashes.


Bain said pay was beyond his control but gave his thoughts on the other factors.

"On fatigue, there are rules on the number of hours they can drive and if they break that rule, they then create problem for others.

"On the state of Northland roads, a professional driver will always drive to the condition — the same rules that apply to every driver on the road."

First Union Northland organiser Gary Hetherington said low pay caused logging truck drivers to work extremely long hours with pressure to complete a certain amount of load.

That resulted in fatigue, he said.

The current starting rate for logging truck drivers was $18 an hour, he said, and a lot of drivers work a maximum of 13-and-a-half hours a day.

Hetherington said there were quite a lot of migrant workers driving logging trucks who were not accustomed to the road conditions in Northland.

Union secretary transport logistics and manufacturing division Jared Abbott said road fatalities involving logging trucks should be considered workplace accidents rather than road toll.

"On average across New Zealand, there are on average 60 road deaths involving trucks every year. You won't find an industry that has so many deaths and truck driving is the most dangerous job the world over," he said.

Like Australia and South Korea, Abbott said suppliers that hired trucking companies to perform jobs they may not be able to fulfil should be held responsible.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said rollover prevention seminars have been held throughout the country in repeat cycles and they have been successful in educating truck drivers on road safety.

"Northland in particular has challenging roads but the basic requirement for drivers to drive according to road conditions and factors such as fatigue and speed are the same as with other drivers."

He said the forum has zero tolerance on logging truck drivers who exceeded their driving hours.

Pay was an issue, he said, particularly in a fiercely competitive road freight industry and companies that struggled to survive would struggle to pay their drivers more than they could afford.

Shirley said suppliers should take responsibility by not always going with the cheaper options that may not be the safest.