Tail Swing Accidents - Best Practices for Log Truck Drivers

The transportation of logs and equipment is the most significant exposure faced in the logging industry. The most frequent, dangerous and potentially fatal hazard is a "Tail Swing" accident, which occurs when a driver is making a left or right turn, and the logs being transported extend beyond the trailer's rear bolster and collide with one or a number of vehicles in an adjacent lane.

  • Tail swing accidents are more prevalent on two lane roads where there is a lane to the left of the truck during a right hand turn.
  • Left lane vehicles present a particular hazard to log truck drivers
  • Tail swing accidents occur during left hand turns when a driver has not left sufficient room for the truck, trailer and extended logs to clear the lanes before oncoming traffic.

To help prevent tail swing accidents, log truck drivers should:

  • Pre-plan all routes, noting all hazards and potential turns that may present a problem.
  • Research and record their state's Legal Length Limit for logs (most states allow up to 14' beyond the center of the rear trailer axle).
  • Know and use all of their state's marking requirements (flags, strobe lights etc.).
  • Inspect their trucks prior to driving on the road to ensure all loads are secure and all lights are operable.

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Right Hand Turns

  • Use their turn signal to warn oncoming traffic that they are making a turn.
  • Check all mirrors to ensure adequate clearance before making any maneuvers.
  • Ensure their truck is positioned to make the turn safely, noting any traffic to the left.
  • While making a turn; consider traffic approaching an intersection or at an intersection on the road they are turning into (Log trucks require more room to turn and often go into the oncoming lane).
  • Stop and wait to complete a turn until all perceived hazards are cleared.

Left Hand Turns

  • Begin to turn only when they're sure they can be completely clear (including overhanging logs) of all lanes they need to cross before oncoming traffic arrives.
  • Use their turn signal to warn oncoming traffic that they are making a turn.
  • Visually check lanes across intersections to ensure no vehicles are present that could hinder the path of the truck.
  • Look out for any parked vehicles on the right side of the road they are turning into.

Underwriting Contact

Peter Elmalis
(916) 274-8780

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