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Published: 2000-12-05 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s Regional Land Transport Committee is supporting the design and trial of longer logging trucks to increase their safety on the road.

The Regional Council has encouraged research into whether longer and lower trucks would improve their stability in cornering. Logging trucks are over represented in road crashes, particularly roll-overs which have resulted in fatal accidents involving other vehicles.

This week’s Committee meeting supported an approach to the Land Transport Safety Authority for permits to be issued to allow operational trials of longer vehicles in the Region. The Committee is concerned about the safety of logging trucks on the road and is encouraging research into ways of making them safer.

Carter Holt Harvey representative Phil Shattock said the longer truck was trialled in the Kinleith Forest and tests showed that at around 24 metres long and with a lower height about 0.8m lower than usual, it was extremely difficult to roll the truck with a lower centre of gravity.

The truck driver also said the truck felt better to drive the longer logs. The next step was to sent the results to a transport research organisation in Wellington and apply for the use of the trucks on the highway without long load pilot drivers.

With the expected boom in the logging industry expected over the next 10 years finding ways of making them safer was a priority for the industry. There was a move to get logs off road and onto rail eventually.

The increased length could also benefit tankers and livestock transporters, but the increased length would not increase weight, the Committee heard. There was a separation between safety and economic issues in making changes to truck dimensions.

Land Transport Safety Authority representative Glen Bunting said a great deal of work was being done in the area of truck safety and questioned if the committee should be considering the matter. He said that reducing speeds on corners had significantly improved safety in the Region.

The Committee also supported in principle on-going work to develop safety of logging trucks in the Waikato Region.