Two loaded log trucks from the same logging company were loaded with treelength pulpwood that had overhanging logs. The two drivers were taking their load to the same mill in the southern U.S., so they traveled together. The weather was clear and sunny. This was their first load of the day.
The “second driver” had been employed for one month with this employer. However, he had 20 years of experience driving log trucks. This was his first trip to this specific mill, so he decided to follow another company log truck going to the same mill.
UNSAFE ACTS & CONDITIONS:
The two trucks traveled for 20-plus miles from the jobsite and entered a small town. They had to slow down and shift lanes due to road construction. The first driver had downshifted and slowed to the 35 MPH speed limit. He then stopped for a red traffic light. The second driver failed to slow down.
The second driver ran into the rear end of the first truck. Several long logs from the first truck entered the engine compartment of the second tractor. One of the logs deflected toward the driver’s side and entered the cab through the firewall. It penetrated the driver and continued out the back window.
The driver died instantly. Investigation revealed that the second driver impacted the logs at approximately 45 MPH.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
- Manage spacing by keeping safe following distances. One rule of thumb recommends a following distance of one second for each 10 feet of vehicle length at speeds below 40 MPH and an additional second at greater speeds.
- Eliminate distractions—they remove precious seconds needed to react.
- Reduce speed when entering construction zones or towns.
- Attach end-of-load warning flags or flashing strobe lights as required by state or federal law. (Note: Loads must not extend beyond the maximum overhang allowed by state or federal law.)
Southwide Safety Committee;
Rick Meyer, Appalachian & Southwide Regions Manager