12-S-08: Loaded, Driverless Truck Rolls Across Woodyard


Safety Alert www.loggingsafety.com 12-S-8

BACKGROUND: The owner-operator of a tractor-trailer log truck in the Northeast was having his truck loaded with 8-foot pulpwood at a concentration log yard. The yard had a very slight surface grade. It was a winter day, clear and cold. Weather was not a factor.

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The operator was considered an experienced log truck driver.

 UNSAFE ACT OR CONDITION: Upon completion of loading, the driver got out of the truck and went over to the crane to get his trip ticket. While the truck was unoccupied, it started to roll downhill, across the logyard. The driver tried to jump on the truck and stop it but realized quickly that it was a poor idea and stepped back. According to the driver, the parking brake had been set, releasing air from the brakes.

ACCIDENT: The truck traveled approximately 300 feet through an intersection in the yard and crashed into a snow bank and down an embankment. Other witnesses noted that only one set of wheels on the trailer was dragging. This observation suggests that the brakes were poorly adjusted and unable to hold the vehicle, despite the parking brake’s having been set. Damage to the truck was minimal (bumper and hood), but the process of pulling the truck out punctured the fuel tank, causing a 25-gallon spill that had to be cleaned up.

INJURY: Fortunately, no one was injured, but if personnel (scalers, etc.) or other machines had been at work in the area of the crash, the outcome could have been very different.


• Parking brakes should always be set whenever a truck is unoccupied.

• Brakes should be checked and adjusted regularly to assure proper function and stopping ability.

• Never attempt to re-enter uncontrolled, moving equipment to try to regain control.

 Reviewed by:

Joel Swanton Northeast Region Manager