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ALC Executive Vice President
Daniel J. Dructor
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P.O. Box 966
Hemphill, TX 75948
T: 409.625.0206
F: 409.625.0207



America’s Loggers: Save Lives by Putting More Log Trucks on Interstates

March 11, 2019, Hemphill, TX— Fatal log truck collisions increased 41 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to a 2018 study by Virginia Tech researchers.  Due to inconsistent truck weight tolerances between state and federal roads, trucks hauling logs to mills are often forced to use city, county and state roads, where more than 96 percent of log truck collisions occurred in the study.  

 

In response the American Loggers Council (ALC) have launched a “Safe Routes, Save Lives” initiative that seeks federal legislation enabling more log trucks to utilize federal interstates for more short-haul trips.    

 

“Safe and efficient log hauling is essential to our industry and the nation’s economy, but inconsistent truck weights are putting American lives at risk,” said ALC Executive Vice President Daniel Dructor. “Since the Spring of 1997, the ALC has urged Congress to allow the industry’s trucks to haul state legal weight tolerances on the Federal Interstate Highway System, which often provide safer routes to mills. As fatal log truck collisions increase, there is ample data suggesting that truck weight reform saves lives by routing log trucks away from schools, crosswalks, city intersections and railroad tracks.”

 

In several states throughout the country, forest products from harvest sites to mills are allowed a tolerance more than the 80,000 lb. weight limits on interstates. In 2009 Congress approved a “safe route” pilot project in Maine that lifted federal truck weight limits on interstates. Congress provided a similar, yet limited exception in Minnesota, and in both cases the policy resulted in fewer collisions, reduced driver fatigue and improved equipment safety.

 

“The Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota (ACLT) worked for ten years to allow logging trucks to utilize the Interstate system instead of rural roads or congested city and town roads,” said ACLT Executive Director Scott Dane. “A 26 mile priority corridor was approved a couple of years ago. Since then there have been no logging truck accidents on the previous route, nor on the new Interstate route. Unfortunately there are still hundreds of miles that logging trucks must still use on rural, city and town roads where vehicular accident data reveals the largest incidents of accidents.” 

 

Due to the dangers of log hauling, the Virginia Tech study found that only five insurance companies nationally are willing to write log truck vehicle insurance. Forestry Mutual Insurance Company is one of those companies, and have joined the ALC in supporting the Safe Routes, Save Lives initiative. 

 

“Insurers have much concern about log and chip trucks being forced to travel routes that are unsafe for both the truck driver and the motoring public due to the 80,000 lb. interstate weight limits,” said Jimmie Locklear, Business Development Manager at Forestry Mutual Insurance Company.  “Traveling state and secondary roads greatly increase encounters with school bus traffic and stops, school zones, intersections, driveway entrances and exits and many other driving challenges.  Several preventable crashes with injury have taken place as result of log and chip trucks being forced to travel these higher risk highways.  I hope these concerns can be addressed by finding ways to allow state specific weights on the interstate system.”

 

Dructor said past efforts to pass truck weight reforms have been stymied by railroad companies resistant to competition for long-haul routes, yet the exemptions the ALC are seeking would only apply to short hauls typically within a 150-mile radius.  Railroad companies commonly do not haul raw logs to sawmills in such short distances anyway.

 

“We are not seeking exemptions for long-haul, nor to promote competition to the railroads,” Dructor said. “This is about safety, not profits. It’s time for Congress to introduce legislation that just makes sense, saves lives, and reduces risk in the process.”

 

 
CONTACT: Daniel Dructor, 409-625-0206, americanlogger@aol.com

© AMERICAN LOGGERS COUNCIL, 2019