VII. Safety In Transportation

The greatest public exposure the logging industry has is in transportation on public roads. The forest products transported from the woods to processing points are very visible and thus create a positive or negative image of the industry as a whole. An accident involving a log truck is detrimental to those involved. Additionally, that accident creates a negative image for all. Log trucks are the lifeline of raw materials to the woodyards, sawmills, and paper mills. Too often that lifeline is severed when an accident occurs. Log truck accidents are costly in terms of equipment, insurance rates, image, and human suffering.

A comprehensive Federal Highway Administration study revealed that two thirds of all truck accidents are preventable. Over 50% of all preventable accidents could be attributed to five prime cause categories.

  1. Failure to allow for adverse environmental conditions.
  2. Following too closely.
  3. Failure to maintain control.
  4. Careless or reckless driving.
  5. Improper or erratic lane changes.

Log truck drivers are professionals and should conduct themselves as such. However, many preventable accidents are attributed to prime cause categories that represent some lack of responsibility on the part of the professional driver toward other highway users. Professional driver failures help contribute to many preventable accidents related to mechanical defects involving brake or tire failures. It is essential the logging industry make every effort to employ safe, professional drivers; maintain safe transport equipment; and comply with federal, state, and local laws regarding highway use.


Drivers should employ a routine system to "pre-trip" their truck and trailer before operating. This "walk around inspection" will identify items in need of repair before they can contribute to an accident. Forest Resource Association has developed a useful Pre-Trip Log Truck Inspection Checklist and Report Form (97-A-9). It is available from FRA's National Office.

  1. Tires, steering apparatus, horn, bolsters, windshield wipers, air hoses, and all connections on trucks and trailers shall be inspected before and after each trip. Inspect the following periodically: wheel flaps, exhaust system, wheel alignment, state inspection sticker, floors, bumpers, shocks, powertrain linkage, and electrical system. All gauges should be functional. If any defect is found which will prevent the safe operation of the equipment, all necessary repairs or adjustments shall be made before the equipment is used. Trailers and vans shall be adequately designed and constructed for the load to be hauled.
  2. Inspection and maintenance records should be maintained to ensure maintenance is performed properly.
  3. Bleed compressed air tanks daily to eliminate water in airlines, or follow manufacturer's recommendations.
  4. Each truck shall be equipped with a dry chemical fire extinguisher. The extinguisher must be maintained full, in operating condition, mounted securely, and readily accessible. The vehicle should be equipped with flares or reflectors (one set of either), first aid kit, and operable flashlight as required by appropriate Federal and state laws.
  5. Each truck shall have a mechanically operated air circulation system designed to prevent fog or internal moisture from obscuring the windshield.
  6. Each truck and each trailer shall be equipped with service and parking brakes that will safely hold the maximum load on the maximum grade. Brakes shall be maintained in good condition.
  7. Brake and air hose lines and couplings shall be replaced or repaired immediately when found to be defective.
  8. Excessively worn tires, regrooved tires (unless designed for regrooving), and section repaired tires shall not be used on the front wheels of trucks or truck tractors. Regrooved or section repaired tires should not be used on the drive wheels of trucks or truck tractors.
  9. Cab doors must open easily from inside and outside. Doors must latch properly.
  10. Lighting systems shall be maintained in proper operating condition.
  11. A substantial bulkhead (headache rack) shall be installed at the rear of the cab to help prevent logs from entering the cab from behind.
  12. Trailer poles shall be equipped with stops at the rear end to prevent the pole from pulling out of the trailer socket.
  13. Trailer pole or tongue couplings shall be securely locked or connected with a keyed pin.
  14. The trailer shall be properly connected. All trailer air lines and electrical connections are to be properly attached.
  15. Cracked or broken windshields shall be replaced.
  16. Cracked or broken mirrors and mirrors which cannot be adjusted shall be repaired or replaced.
  17. Cab entry steps shall be secure; in good condition; and free of grease, dirt, mud, or debris.
  18. All objects shall be secured inside the cab so as not to present a hazard to the driver in the event of an accident or overturn.
  19. Wheels shall be checked for cracks and loose or missing lug bolts. Remove rocks, wood chunks, and other debris from between tires and tread.
  20. Loading device (e.g., hydraulic booms) shall be properly secured.
  21. Safety equipment (for compliance with applicable state and federal regulations) may include, but is not limited to:
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Flares or Emergency Reflectors
  • Seat Belts
  • Hand Tools
  • Appropriate Load Securing Devices
  • Hydraulic Jack
  • Legal Warning Flags
  •  Load Tail Light


Safety must be the prime consideration when placing wood on any vehicle for movement on woods roads and public roads and highways.

  1. Trucks shall wait until the loading area is clear of hazards before entering.
  2. When it is necessary for trucks to back into a loading or unloading area, they shall do so only upon the signal of the loader operator or other authorized person. It is always advisable to have an individual guide the backing vehicle. The guide should stand to the driver's side of the vehicle, away from its path. A warning horn should be sounded before any vehicle begins to back up. Extreme caution should be used when raising or lowering the trailer landing gear.
  3. Sufficient clearance shall be maintained to prevent the load from binding on frames or wheels.
  4. A hard hat and proper personal protective equipment shall be worn at all times when the driver is out of the vehicle cab. Gloves shall be worn when handling cables, chains, straps, and binders.
  5. Logging trucks and trailers shall be equipped with adequate metal standards, bolsters, or similar devices. Do not use wood extensions. Extensions should be metal and welded or bolted in place.
  6. Loads shall be kept below the top of the standards.
  7. All logs should be long enough to be contained by at least two standards.
  8. All logs shall be well balanced and centered so the load is stable without chains, cables, or straps.
  9. Place binders, chains, cables, or straps so they can be released from the unloading machine side of the load. Exceptions may be made where the unloading machine is equipped with tongs, grapples, or other mechanical devices capable of restraining the entire load while binders are released.
  10. No load shall be moved until the binders are securely in place.
  11. Loads shall not extend beyond the maximum overhang beyond the rear bolster allowed by state or Federal law.
  12. Stay clear of any loading or unloading operation by standing in front of and away from the vehicle. Never go to either side of the vehicle until all loading or unloading has stopped and it is obviously safe to do so.
  13. Binders, chains, cables, or straps should be removed from the load at the designated area. Follow applicable unloading procedures.
  14. Trimming specifications should be strictly adhered to.
  15. Lengths should be compatible with the vehicle carrying the load.
  16. Place larger and longer logs at the bottom of the load.
  17. Attach an appropriate warning flag or light, as required by state and Federal law.
  18. Eliminate any overhang beyond the rear bolster which obscures the rear trailer lights or is lower than allowed by law.
  19. Secure the load with the number and type of binders required by state or Federal law.
  20. No vehicle or load should exceed 13.5 feet in height, or eight feet in width, or less if required by state law. Legal lengths vary by state. Know, understand, and comply with the state laws for your area of operation.


Defensive driving is the key to preventing accidents on the road. Watch for other drivers. Back off if the situation does not give a cushion of safety. Always identify ways you can escape if something happens.

  1. Every driver shall have a Commercial Drivers License and shall be trained for the class of vehicle being operated.
  2. Check the load to see that it is safely stacked and properly balanced. Trim any limbs, branches, or sticks protruding from the load. Remove anything extending lower than allowed by law.
  3. A second brake test should be made immediately after the vehicle is first moved.
  4. Practice defensive driving. Be on guard at all times for the mistakes of others. Vehicles shall not be operated at speeds that endanger the driver or other traffic or that exceed the posted speed for the area. Consideration shall be given to the condition of the roadway, weather, curves, grades, grade crossing, and the mechanical condition of the vehicle. Use low gears while descending steep slopes. Know your route. Exercise extreme caution at railroad crossings. "Stop, look, and listen" at all railroad crossings.
  5. Passengers shall not be carried in trucks unless authorized by the truck owner. Riding on any part of a truck except inside the cab is prohibited.
  6. Trucks shall not be moved on a landing or other operating location until all persons in the area are in the clear.
  7. Seat belts shall be worn at all times by the driver and authorized passenger when the vehicle is in operation.
  8. Before entering any public road, drivers shall stop, and tighten all load binders, and inspect loads for stability and security. All lights should be clean.
  9. Give correct signals prior to making any turns.
  10. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Pass other vehicles only where highway conditions permit.
  11. When the vehicle must be stopped enroute, pull off the road as far as possible, engage the emergency flashers, and set up warning signals.
  12. Maintain proper clearance when turning with tree length loads. Allow clearance for any part of the load extending beyond the rear of the trailer.
  13. When traveling without a load, make sure binders, chains, cables, straps, and other equipment are properly secured and stored.
  14. Mud and debris deposited by exiting or entering vehicles should be removed from public roads. Driving a truck is an art which requires special knowledge and skill. The operator must anticipate potential accident situations, allow for unexpected actions of other drivers, and operate the vehicle under control at all times. Drive the vehicle in accordance with all traffic laws. Never drive when not fully alert and capable of safe driving. Do not operate a vehicle after consuming any alcohol or drugs, or when fatigued. Never drive a truck if the load is improperly distributed or inadequately secured. The safe condition and operation of the transport vehicle is the driver's responsibility.