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Longer, Safer Logging Trucks Approved

Friday 31 May 2002

A road rule change to improve the stability of logging trucks announced by government today will significantly reduce the number of rollovers, says the Log Transport Safety Council and the New Zealand Forest Owners Association.

From June 20, the allowable length of logging trucks will increase from 20 to 22 metres, so the loads can be reconfigured across two packets instead of one. The weight remains the same, which means the load height comes down, lowering the centre of gravity and increasing stability.

The Log Transport Safety Council proposed the rule change after research identified stability as a major factor in the incidence of rollovers, which currently occur at a rate of one a week on public roads. A series of on-road trials, run in conjunction with the Land Transport Safety Authority, proved the case for slightly longer, more stable loads.

“This is excellent news, and something we’ve been pushing for a long time. Based on the number of double-packet trailers we have in our logging fleet at the moment, the conservative estimate is for a 40 per cent reduction in rollovers," says LTSC secretary Bruce Nairn.

"However, we expect it to be significantly more than that, because the single packet trailers will carry the longer logs with the same weight, so their loads will be lower and more stable as well."

NZFOA spokesperson, Doug Robertson, says the rule change couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Harvested wood product in New Zealand will double to 32 million cubic metres by 2015. That’s going to mean more trucks on the road, particularly in areas like East Coast and Northland where the roads are poorer and there is a greater risk of rollover. This rule change is certainly going to help with truck safety – there’s no doubt about that.”

He says the rule change is not compulsory, so the next step is to make it work. NZFOA and LTSC will send guidelines to all forest growers and operators on how to utilise the new provisions.

“NZFOA members, who own or manage nearly 90 per cent of New Zealand’s plantation forests, will be strongly encouraged to ensure operators use the right truck configuration to take advantage of the new rule.

“Operationally, it’s going to take cooperation from truck operators, harvesting crews, forest owners and logistics coordinators. We need the right segregation of log lengths out in the bush so we can take advantage of the new rule, and spread the load over two packets on the trailer,” he says.

All trucks carrying extended loads will be required to display a 22 metre truck sign, and the 0800 LOGTRUCK number – a free phone number set up by the LTSC to record reports from the public on good and bad driving behaviour.

Ends

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